Indian Railways News

Indian Railways News

New Metro Rail policy stresses on States to improve Viability: ICRA Report

The new metro rail policy empowers states, by putting the onus on them to improve project viability by stressing on economic viability and private participation, according to a recent ICRA report.

The report elaborated that the viability can be improved by promoting transit-oriented development (TOD) and allying it with real estate development, improving last-mile connectivity as well as attracting private investments.

“The new metro rail policy will increase the state government’s role and responsibility in developing the new metro projects,” K Ravichandran, Senior Vice-President and Group-Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA, said in a statement.

The policy provides for rigorous assessment of new metro proposals, including alternate transit mode analysis to ensure that the least-cost and most-efficient mass transit mode is selected for public transport, the report pointed out.

Further, it also proposes an independent third-party assessment of proposals by government identified agencies.

“However, the policy’s increased emphasis on PPP model for metro development is expected to face challenges, given the low ridership witnessed in some of the operational metro projects and subdued interest of the private sector in taking up PPP projects,” Ravichandran said.

The PPP in the metro rail sector has so far been limited to only six such projects, one of which (Mumbai Metro Ph-2) was terminated before the start while another one (the Delhi Airport Line) was terminated after it became operational.

Currently, there are three operational PPP-based Metro projects (one in Mumbai, and two in Gurugram) while one project is under implementation (Hyderabad Metro).

The new policy plans to empower states to regulate and set up a Fare-Fixation Authority as well as promoting other non-fare revenues such as advertisements, lease of space, it noted.

Also there are provisions to raise resources using innovative mechanisms like ‘Betterment Levy’ on nearby assets, issuance of corporate bonds and improve last-mile connectivity for a catchment area of nearly five km, to promote metro ridership.


Air India Tenure One Of The Most Satisfying Periods Of My Life: Ashwani Lohani

Air India’s outgoing CMD Ashwani Lohani on Wednesday said he will miss the association with the airline and described his tenure as one of the most satisfying periods of his life. Mr Lohani, who has been at the helm of the carrier for nearly two years, will take over as the Chairman of Railway Board today.

“My journey with Air India has been one of the most satisfying periods of my life. Together, we could bring about major improvements and also expansion and in the process have been able to improve the image of the airline,” he said in a letter to employees.

He said it has been his fortune to work with a rare breed of men and women at the airline who make planes fly with “commitment, devotion and pride”.

“The time that I spent here as the head of this family shall always be one of the most cherished postings of my life and this association with Air Indians and their beautiful flying machines would always be missed,” he said.

The government is in the process of finalising the modalities for the divestment of Air India, which has been in the red for long.

Expressing his good wishes to the employees, Mr Lohani said, “May this organisation grow from strength to strength.”

 Mr Lohani, 58, is taking over as Chairman of Railway Board after the resignation of its current chief AK Mittal in the shadow of several train crashes. Mr Mittal reportedly resigned on Tuesday after he was asked to go on leave by the ministry over the Utkal Express derailment on Saturday. 23 people died when 13 coaches of the train jumped track around 100 km from Delhi. On Wednesday morning, over 70 were injured in another derailment.

Rajiv Bansal To Be Air India’s Interim Chairman After Ashwani Lohani

The government on Wednesday moved Ashwani Lohani, hailed as a turnaround specialist, from the now operationally profitable Air India to the Railway Board as its chairman, while giving interim charge of the national carrier to senior IAS officer Rajiv Bansal.

Mr Lohani replaces A K Mital at Railway Board at a time when the country’s largest transporter has faced two back-to-back derailments, including one where more than 20 passengers died, and for which Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu took “full moral responsibility”.

While Mr Lohani has been associated with railways in the past, his successor at Air India Mr Bansal also spent nearly two years at the civil aviation ministry between 2006 and 2008. Mr Lohani would be taking over as Railway Board Chairman today.
Mr Bansal has been appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India for three months.

 Presently, he is additional secretary and financial adviser at the petroleum ministry.
A senior civil aviation ministry official said that Mr Bansal has been appointed as Air India CMD for three months. Bansal is from the Nagaland cadre of 1988 batch and hails from Haryana.

He is taking over as Air India CMD at a time when the government is working on the modalities for the disinvestment of the loss-making national carrier.

Kaifiyat Express: Over 100 Injured After 10 Coaches Derail

Over hundred people are said to be injured due to the derailment of ten bogies of the Kaifiyat Express in Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh Wednesday morning. The derailment resulted from a collision with a dumper carrying construction material for railway work. The railways, however, claimed that only 25 persons have been injured.

The incident comes four days after the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed in Muzaffarnagar, killing around 23 people and injuring 72.
“10 bogies of the train derailed of which one overturned, leading to injuries to 100 passengers of which four with serious injuries were rushed to Saifai and Etawah hospitals,” said Superintendent of Police, Auraiya, Sanjay Tyagi.

There have been no casualties so far.

Secretary, Home, Bhagwan Swarup said the accident took place due to a loader carrying material for work on dedicated freight corridor. “The accident took place because of a loader carrying sand for track working for dedicated freight corridor. It overturned and came on the track,” he said.

“It was not an unmanned crossing. But there was a road parallel to the track on which the loader overturned,” Mr Swarup added.

Meanwhile, taking responsibility for frequent train accidents, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu offered to resign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, however, asked him to wait.

Mr Prabhu made the statement hours after Railway Board chairman AK Mittal resigned owning moral responsibility. Ashwini Lohani, the chairman of national carrier Air India, will replace him as the new chief of the board.

The number of deaths due to train accidents has already reached around 200 this year, the highest in a decade. There have been 62 incidents this year alone.

After Air India, Ashwani Lohani Will Now Head Railway Board

Air India chief Ashwani Lohani, viewed as something of a turnaround specialist, will take over as the new Chairman of the Railway Board after the resignation of its current chief AK Mittal in the shadow of several train crashes.

Mr Lohani, 58, belongs to the 1980 batch of the Indian Railways Service Mechanical Engineers.

Mr Mittal reportedly resigned yesterday after he was asked to go on leave by the ministry over the Utkal Express derailment on Saturday. 23 people died when 13 coaches of the train jumped track around 100 km from Delhi. This morning, over 70 were injured in another derailment.

Hours after reports of Mr Mittal’s resignation surfaced today, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted that he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and suggested that he had offered to quit after two accidents in five days. Mr Prabhu said PM Modi had asked him to “wait”.

Mr Lohani is the senior-most railway official with more than one year in the board.

He was handpicked for the Air India top job reportedly by the Prime Minister and was the first choice to replace Mr Mittal. Officials say under Mr Lohani, the struggling airline posted an operational profit of Rs. 500 crore last year and improved its performance. The government has announced that it may privatize the airline.

He has also served in the National Rail Museum and holds the Guinness Record for successfully running the ‘Fairy Queen Express’, the world’s oldest working steam locomotive. He is credited with the turnaround of the Madhya Pradesh tourism department.

Mr Lohani is believed to have four engineering degrees and he has written two books.

After the train accident on Saturday, the Railways Ministry sent three top officials on leave, suspended four local officials and transferred another over lapses.

Railways to introduce designer, easy to clean blankets soon

Plagued with complaints of dirty blankets, the Indian Railways has firmed up an action plan to increase the frequency of washing blankets and replace the existing ones with designer, lightweight blankets in a phased manner.

Besides, used blankets would be sanitised on a regular basis before being given for further use.

Though the directive is to wash the blankets every one or two months, a CAG report had recently highlighted the unhygienic condition of blankets which were not washed for even six months.

However, smelly blankets may soon become a thing of past on trains.

 The railways have roped in the National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFT) to design lightweight blankets with less wool content. A trial of ‘thin, cold washable blankets’ is also being carried out in the Central Railway zone as a pilot project.

“Our aim is to provide washed blankets along with fresh linen in trains for each journey,” said a senior Railway Ministry official in the housekeeping directorate who is involved in the task.

Currently about 3.90 lakh sets of linen are provided per day comprising two bedsheets, a towel, pillow and blanket for each passenger in AC classes.

The plan envisages increasing the frequencies of washing of blankets to begin with and replacing the existing ones with the newly designed lightweight blankets made of soft fabric in a phased manner, he said.

Railways have already started changing the cover of blankets in some sections while frequency of washing is being increased from monthly to fortnightly and weekly, said the official.

Railways had recently held a meeting on linen management which was attended by various stakeholders including mechanised laundry operators, suppliers of cleaning chemicals, linen suppliers and senior railway officers.

It was decided to implement the plan for improvement of linen management with aim of providing clean, hygienic and good quality linen to passengers travelling in AC classes.

Preparations are are being made to introduce lightweight blankets made of soft fabric and these will be washed after every use, the official said.

There are about 50 mechanised laundries operational at the moment and ten more will be opened shortly.

FIR against unknown persons in Utkal Express derailment, charges include ‘death due to negligence’

An FIR has been lodged against unknown persons under various sections including 304A of IPC (death due to negligence) in the tragic Utkal Express derailment.

Other charges include 287 – negligent conduct, causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety, causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal security and mischief causing damage.

Sections under the Railways Act include 151 – damage to or destruction of certain railway properties and 154 – endangering safety of persons travelling by railway by rash or negligent act or omission, as per ANI.

Thirteen coaches of the high-speed Utkal Express yesterday jumped the rails, with one of them crashing into a house adjacent to the track near Khatauli in UP, leaving 23 dead and over 100 passengers injured.

Meanwhile, building on overnight search and rescue operation, the railways today deployed high-tech cranes and scores of workers to clear the tracks even as the sleepy town of Khatauli tried to come to terms with the train tragedy.

Two heavy duty 140-tonne cranes were pressed into service at the crack of the dawn to clear derailed coaches, from which the survivors were rescued and bodies pulled out till late last night.

Linesmen and other workers brought from nearby places, shovelled away the unwanted stones as new concrete sleepers were laid to reinforce the ill-fated tracks.

“The train had 23 coaches out of which 13 had derailed. It was running at a speed of about 100 kmph when the accident took place,” said Delhi Division DRM, RN Singh, as per PTI.

Six of the derailed coaches were damaged severely.

A posse of security personnel from the UP Police, the the RPF, the PAC, the RRF, has been deployed at the site of the accident since it occurred last evening.

Soon, train travel from Mumbai to Delhi in just 13 hours

Soon, passengers will be able to travel Delhi – Mumbai route via train in just 13 hours. A new move by Indian Railways will cut down the current time taken to travel one of the busiest railway journey route by three hours, making it a simple overnight journey.

Currently, Rajdhani Express covers the distance in about 16 hours.

Railways conducted a trial using Rajdhani’s Linke Hofman Busch (LHB) coaches and now assessing the results.

The new project is will use 14-coach train, pulled by a single engine, with a capability of 200 kmph.

Currently, speed restrictions, signaling systems and track conditions, force trains to under-perform in terms of speed. This new train will reportedly travel at a speed of 180 kmph.

In a ‘soft trial’, the train took about 13 hours with two operational halts to complete the journey.

The second, “more serious” trial will happen after the Railway Board meeting, reported the Indian Express.

If this takes off, similar plans will be unveiled for Delhi-Howrah routes.

Railways earns additional Rs 540 crore in less than a year

The Railways has earned an additional revenue of Rs 540 crore in less than a year through the flexi fare scheme and there is no plan to discontinue it, a senior ministry official said.

The scheme, launched on September 9 last year, is applicable in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains, allowing 10 per cent of the seats to be sold at normal fare and thereafter increasing it by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold with a ceiling of 50 per cent.

“We have earned money from flexi fare and there is no reason why we should discontinue it. In fact, we have gained 85,000 additional passengers in these trains since we launched the scheme, showing that even passengers are not averse to the scheme,” said a senior official of the ministry.

The official told PTI that from September 2016-June 30, 2017, the Railways earned an additional revenue of Rs 540 crore.

The scheme, which officials say will be continuously reviewed, saw a revision last December after the Railways took note of vacant seats in such trains.

The Railways made changes in the flexi fare structure to attract last minute travellers and introduced a range of discounts.

The 30 per cent tatkal charges have been waived for these premium trains, a 10 per cent rebate on basic fare has been offered on vacant berths after preparation of first chart in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto to lure last minute travellers, provision of tatkal quota has been reduced to 10 per cent from 30 per cent of the total berths available and there is also a provision for discounted fares for some trains.

“The scheme now comes with a lot of discounts for passengers and it is a success. However, there is always scope for more reviews,” the official added.

The numbers show a positive trend – during September 2016-June 2017, Duronto trains earned Rs 140 crore more than the amount earned in the same period last year while Shatabdi trains earned Rs 120 crore more.

There are total 42 Rajdhani trains, 46 Shatabdi and 54 Duronto trains.

“Just to give an indication of how much the railways is expected to gain from the scheme – we have earned an additional revenue of Rs 240 crore from April-June this year, which is around Rs 80 crore additional revenue per month. This comes to around Rs 960 crore per annum. These are good signs,” the official said.

Anduril Technologies introduces ”pay on delivery” for Tatkal tickets

Payment provider for Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Anduril Technologies Private Ltd, on Wednesday, announced that the users can now book tickets under Tatkal quota for train journeys and pay for them later via cash, debit or a credit card by opting to have tickets delivered at their doorstep.

“Pay on delivery for Tatkal tickets is going to be a huge benefit to for millions of train travellers who need to book under the Tatkal quota. Users already understand that every second is precious while booking a train ticket under Tatkal and we are confident that the option to book first, pay later will find significant adoption among users,” said Anurag Bajpai, CEO at Anduril Technologies.

The new `pay on delivery` feature abolishes transaction failures. Often, the money gets debited and the ticket is not issued on account of multiple reasons. With the Pay-on-delivery option, users will pay only when the tickets are booked.”

This move by IRCTC also aims to encourage people that buy tickets off the Railway Reservation Counters to move to online medium,” added Bajpai.IRCTC processes 130,000 Tatkal transactions daily, and a majority of these tickets are booked within minutes of Tatkal quota being opened for booking.

The `pay on delivery` feature evades the use of a payment gateway and will help users make the bookings in just a few seconds. This service was previously available for general reservations only.