Indian Railways News

New Metro Rail policy assures Economic Rate of Return on the Cost of Metro Rail projects

Delhi Metro recently raised the price of its ticket by up to 50 per cent for an average ride of 15 to 24 kilometres effectively taking the fare out reach for poorer income groups. The rationale offered by the Corporation is that it is necessary to keep it profitable. In the process, the benefit of the Metro to provide long-distance travel to low-income groups has gone for a toss. It is an example of tunnel-vision based accounting that the financial rate of return imposes on broad spectrum infrastructure projects.

The alternative floated by the central government on Wednesday requiring a higher than before commitment from states and public-private partnership (PPP), in terms of land clearances and funding obligations is more practical. The policy stipulates a shift from the present ‘Financial Internal Rate of Return of eight per cent’ to ‘Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14 per cent’ “in line with global best practices”  The new policy aims to encourage private investments across a range of metro operations through a PPP route for availing of central assistance for new projects. Private investment and other innovative forms of financing have been made compulsory to meet the huge resource demand for these capital-intensive schemes.

It is rarely possible for an urban transport project to be profitable. Yet for high-density populated cities infrastructure projects need to be constructed, says Shailesh Pathak, chief executive-deisgnate of L&T IDPL —the company executing the Hyderabad metro project. “The returns from these projects have to be assessed taking into account environmental costs, equity costs and so on”. For example, the Shanghai metro charges 3 and 4 yuan for journeys upto 16 kilometres, effectively encouraging all income segments to board. The costs that are saved are in terms of people opting for public transport  instead of taxis, bus et al. Writing sometime ago in Business Standard, Dinesh Mohan, one of India’s veteran commentator on transport economics, noted “One could demand lower fares if the Delhi metro operated as a service for the public good. But, in truth, the Delhi Metro has never presented itself as a public service, but more as a prestige project”.

Once those costs are built into the project instead of limiting the costs to only traditional ones, it is easy to understand why projects like city metros cannot be financed only through government handouts.  As a top former urban development department official said in the new policy a metro can be built as a joint venture between state and central government or it can rope in a private sector company.

Dinesh Mohan suggests those using cars should be taxed more to pay for the Metro subsidy. Metro man E Sreedharan thinks it is the government (state or central) which will have to foot the unlimited liability of building and running metros. He told, “Nowhere in the world has the construction and maintenance model of PPP in Metro rail completely succeeded”.

There is certainly no doubt the track record of Reliance Infra with Delhi’s airport line or Mumbai Metro does not inspire confidence.There is also little reason to believe that any other private sector company will be more socially attuned at the cost of its profit.

Yet is it fair to expect a government to choose between running hospitals and that of a metro within a limited budget, though the vocal public will make it choose the latter! At the end of the day bringing in an outside entity allows for more realistic recognition of the actual cost of such projects. This is vitally necessary to ensure these projects are built on tight deadlines and cost control. No government department can ensure that. As of now of the eight metro projects running in Delhi (217 kms), Bengaluru (42.30  kms), Kolkata (27.39 kms), Chennai (27.36 kms), Kochi (13.30 kms), Mumbai (Metro Line 1-11.40 km, Mono Rail Phase 1-9.0 km), Jaipur (9.00 kms) and Gurugram (Rapid Metro-1.60 km) has only two private sector players. The rest are joint ventures between the centre and the state governments. There are 13 more cities planning metros. Given the state finances it is impossible to expect that scarce public resources acutely needed for health care and education can be diverted to build these instead.

Suspected Explosive Found In Parcel At Guwahati Station

A suspicious object, suspected to be a bomb, was today recovered from a Silchar-bound parcel baggage in Guwahati railway station, GRP and police officials said.

A Home Guard on duty at the Railway Mail Service (RMS) area, behind platform number one, heard a ticking sound from the parcel baggage at around 9.45 am and immediately informed the Government Railway Police there, a GRP official told PTI.

 The GRP then informed the police who arrived with a bomb disposal squad for removing the baggage to an isolated place, the official said.

Director General of Police Mukesh Sahay said it was not immediately known if the parcel contained a bomb. “The laid down drill for any suspicious object will be followed by isolating it and then finding out what it is,” Mr Sahay said.

“We will have to first detect whether it is a bomb. Only after that, will the question of who is involved will come in”, the DGP said.

On being asked as to why there was no CCTV in the RMS area, Sahay said, “Only the Railway authority can comment about it. It is good to have CCTV but nevertheless a security personnel detected it”.

Meanwhile, the suspicious object, weighing 10 kg, was taken safely in a special truck to an open uninhabited area of Rani on the outskirts of Guwahati, a bomb disposal official said.

The official suspected it to be a handmade improvised explosive device (IED) fitted with a programmable time device (PTD).

Urging photo journalists not to use camera flash while taking photos as it could trigger a blast, he said the object would be safely detonated with another IED.

The parcel sorting personnel at the RMS yard said, the baggage with many articles, had a GPO seal marked for Silchar in south Assam’s Barak Valley.

It was to be transported by truck as railway services were suspended for the last ten days due to floods.

Nitin Kannamwar, Indian Official At Wimbledon, Explains How Hawk-Eye Has Changed Tennis

Nitin Kannamwar is India’s most celebrated official at Wimbledon and is the first Indian Line Umpire for Men’s and Ladies Wimbledon finals. A gold badge referee of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), Nitin has officiated in the Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and the Beijing (2008) Games. Along with that he was also the Assistant Chief of Umpires in both the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics and has participated in 28 Grand Slam tournaments. Nitin, who is also the first Indian to be designated as a Review Official at Wimbledon, in a video uploaded by Wimbledon on Facebook, shares his experience of being the same and how the Hawk-Eye technology is changing the game of tennis.

“My whole life has been basically about tennis. It’s a journey of tennis, as a player, as a coach, and into an official. This year hopefully will be my 21st Wimbledon. I have been involved in every part of officiating that there could be in Wimbledon. Which included line umpiring, as a chair umpire and now as a what they call now Off Court Technical Advisor, which they call OCTA.”

“So, I did that also for two years and now for the last three years, I have been doing the Hawk-Eye booth. Initially, when Hawk-Eye came into tennis, it added a certain amount of pressure. A call that you are going to make will be ratified by a machine. And the whole world will get to know whether the call you made was the right call or not.”

“Your job can be questioned by a player, but it can also be talked about by millions and billions of people watching that match on TV. So, it’s just about being able to perform whether you are a player or an official under pressure,” added the ITF Officiating Regional Officer for Asia.

Nitin’s big break came in 1994 when he was selected to officiate at Wimbledon. He had said, “I have officiated at all Wimbledon tournaments, barring 1998 to 2000. It is a privilege to represent the country.”

He has officiated at the US Open, French Open, Australian Open, Olympics, Women’s Tennis Association and ATP tours, Davis Cup and even the 2010 Commonwealth Games that were held in New Delhi.

Talking about being a Line Umpire, Nitin had said “When we select lines officials, we look at their confidence. When the ball runs past the line in a split of a second, you’ve got to be able to call out instantly. If we see consistent hesitance, they disqualify.”

Kannamwar, who was the chief umpire at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, said for an umpire a good personality bodes well and a good eyesight, with once a year check-ups is mandatory.

Though Nitin umpires at least 40 matches a year, he also has a job with Western Railway, managing its tennis team.

 

Efforts on to Restore Flood-Damaged Railway Infrastructure, N-E links remains Snapped

Works to restore railway infrastructure damaged by the flood under the jurisdiction of the N R Railway is on in the war footing in the wake of the Railway Board giving direction to all zonal railways to cancel trains travelling from various parts of the country beyond Malda town in West Bengal and Katihar in Bihar till August 20 next because of the damage to railway infrastructure by flood fury.

The damage of railway infrastructure due to flood fury forced the N F Railway to cancel altogether 77 trains so far. The railway link with North East India has remained snapped.

Meanwhile, a medical camp was conducted at Guwahati station for the passengers waiting in the station due to cancellation of train services. The N F Railway is running special trains from Guwahati to Dalkhola and from Dibrugarh to Guwahati for clearance of rush caused by cancellation of trains due to unprecedented flood, according to the CPRO of the N R Railway, Pranab Jyoti Sharma.

The CPRO informed that at Bridge No. 3 located at Km. 7/2-3 between stations Kuretha and Manian in the section Katihar- Kumedpur which was breached at 7.30 A.M. on Wednesday, N.F. Railway has been able to mobilise a 45 ft. girder along with a 140-ton crane which has reached site from Eastern Railway. Boulders for restoration have been mobilised from Pakur, Bakudi and Sakrigli.

This bridge which is crucial for connectivity from Katihar to Malda is being attended by more than 600 labours working round the clock and it is expected that if flood condition does not deteriorate further the bridge will be restored by tomorrow.

At Bridge No. 133 located between stations Sudhani – Telta of New Jalpaiguri – Malda section which was worst hit with almost 60 m approach being washed away on both up and down line, restoration work has already been started. The senior railway officials are camping at site while an NDRF team from Danapur has also reached the site today. Work is progressing day and night.

At bridge no. MK 8, 9, 11 between stations Kumedpur – Khurial of Malda Town New Jalpaiguri section which have been washed out by flood water from river Mahananda, restoration work is going on in full swing under supervision of senior Railway officials.

In Alipurduar Division, track connection from Fakiragram to Dhubri has been restored from Thursday morning after completion of work at Bridge no. 28. Train connection from Dhubri will be restored and DEMU services will be started from Friday. In Lumding Division, the flood-affected track between Silghat and Jakhalabandha stations has been attended and restored for movement of traffic at restricted speed.

Karnataka Ministers to boycott Railway Minister’s Inaugural Function of FIAT Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir

Expressing unhappiness about the Railway Ministry, Ministers Priyank Kharge and Sharanprakash Patil will boycott the inaugural programme of the Rail Bogie Karkhana at Kadechur-Badiyal Industrial area in Yadgir district on Friday.

Talking over the phone from Bengaluru, the Ministers expressed anguish over the Railway Ministry neglecting the region and also elected representatives. “Being the Minister of the district where the Karkhana came up, I was not invited as per protocol,” Mr. Priyank Kharge said.

Mr. Kharge said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu should understand the project came up because of M. Mallikarjun Kharge, MP and Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, who dreamed to develop the backward area with this project. Mr. Prabhu, however, did not invite Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge as per protocol.

The foundation stone to establish FIAT Rail Bogie Karkhana was laid in 2014 on 150 acres of land in Kadechur and Badiyal Industrial Area. The land was handed over by the State government for free and Tata Projects Ltd. completed the project at a cost of Rs. 80.92 crore for Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd.

According to the South Central Railway headquarters at Secunderabad, Mr.Suresh Prabhu will inaugurate the Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir through video-conferencing on Friday.

The foundation stone for the Rail Bogie Karkhana at Yadgir was laid in February, 2014 and the work was awarded to M/s.Tata Projects Ltd., with the executing agency being the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL). The Karkhana was completed at a cost of Rs. 80.92 Crore and has come up on 150 acres of land given free by Government of Karnataka to Indian Railways. The Karkhana is located 40 Kms from Raichur Railway Station on the way to Saidapur Railway Station and approximately 10 Kms from Saidapur Railway Station.

 

BEML hits new 52-week high as Cabinet approves new Metro Rail policy

PSU stock BEML has moved higher on impressive volumes on Thursday, riding on news that the Union Cabinet has approved new metro rail policy. The government’s new policy aims to expand the metro network across various cities in the country through Public-Private Partnership model. The plan looks at construction of new Metro Rail systems via the Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer mode and allowing private players to operate the service and involving them works such as  maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure.

BEML already has a pretty strong order book and with the new policy on Metro Rail set to result in more order inflow for the company, the stock may well go on to test higher levels in the near to medium term.

The company announced that its order book’s value stood at Rs 7582 crore at the beginning of the June 2017-18 quarter and during the quarter it bagged orders worth Rs 815 crore.

The company executed orders worth Rs 632 crore in the April – June quarter. As on 30 June 2017, the order book value stood at Rs 7765 crore. Out of this, the company has execute orders worth Rs 2388 crore during the current fiscal and the rest, Rs 5377 crore worth of orders, in the next financial year.

BEML had reported a net loss of Rs 85.13 crore for the quarter ended June 2017, as against net profit of Rs 186.40 crore in the preceding quarter. In April – June 2016 quarter, the company had posted a loss of Rs 107.10 crore.

At Rs 1868, off the day’s high of Rs 1879, BEML is now up 8.8% from its previous closing price. More than 3.1 lakh shares have changed hands so far at the BEML counter on BSE today, about 3.3 times the average daily volume of 0.91 lakh shares. On the National Stock Exchange, the BEML counter has clocked a volume of nearly 3.2 million shares so far in the session. Th stock touched a new 52-week high of Rs 1880 on NSE today.

Why ‘Metro Man’ Sreedharan is against PPP Model in Rail Projects

The Centre’s growing emphasis on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model in transport infrastructure underscores a cash crunch in the coffers. Along with mounting fiscal deficit, governments in the states and Centre are also hobbled by a lack of institutional framework that would have made private investments viable and sustainable in the long run. It is in this context that ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan’s scathing observations about the Union government’s diktat on seeking private participation in urban mass transit projects assume importance.

E Sreedharan, famously known as the Metro Man, has always been a vocal critic of PPP (public-private-partnership). Therefore, his reluctance in executing urban rail projects on PPP mode is not new and if facts are to be believed the 85-year-old’s fear is not misplaced either.

It all might seem a good idea to invite private entities to capital-intensive projects, but as Sreedharan rightly points out private funding in infra-projects would seek higher returns in shorter time frames, which is virtually impossible in the case of metro since fares must be kept reasonable, if not low. With real-estate prices witnessing a sharp decline, the carrot of land parcels for property development hasn’t also worked. It is clear that the onus of developing mass public transport is on the government if it wants cities to grow as economic hubs — Mumbai’s wheels of commerce are powered by the suburban railways network. Going by past fiascos, depending on private participation is too risky a proposition for developing metro rail. The government must pay heed to his warning that the new policy could sound the death-knell for projects around the country. His words must be taken seriously.

Sreedharan in the past had said the construction of Airport Express Metro would have incurred 20 per cent less expenditure had Delhi Metro built it. In the case of Airport Express, the entire civil structure was done by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), accounting for 60 per cent of the cost. He had said the other 40 per cent could also have been done by DMRC with the help of a loan from Japan.

The project got delayed on several accounts and was finally salvaged by Sreedharan and launched in February 2011. In the airport line, DMRC invested 55 per cent of the cost (50 per cent of which was borrowed from Japan). Reliance Infrastructure, which was the only private player to come forward, invested in the rolling stock, electrification, and signaling.

According to latest media reports, the Metro Man has once again questioned the feasibility of PPP projects. PPP in India was tried out in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and the Airport line of Delhi, but the experience has not been good.

In Mumbai Metro Line 1, Reliance Infrastructure took almost seven years to complete 11 km of the relatively easier elevated line and they now claim to be losing Rs 50 lakh per day in revenue everyday despite the very high fares they are charging. In Chennai, the state and central governments invested all the money with borrowing from Japan.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a new metro policy under which the future metro projects will now be tendered after evaluating their social and economic impact in addition to considering financial returns.

Taking note of the substantial social, economic and environmental gains from Metro projects, the policy stipulated a shift from the present ‘Financial Internal Rate of Return of 8%’ to ‘Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14%’ for approving Metro projects, in line with global practices.

The policy opens a big window for private investments, making the PPP component mandatory. “Private participation either for complete provisioning of Metro rail or for some unbundled components (like automatic fare collection, operation and maintenance of services, etc) will form an essential requirement for all Metro rail projects seeking Central financial assistance,” the new policy said.

The new policy provides for a rigorous assessment of new proposals and also proposes an independent third-party assessment by government-identified agencies.

Sreedharan has even said that no private company will come forward for construction of Metro rail as it is not a profitable investment. This could also be true since the metro projects are left to be taken up in tier II cities where the traffic volumes may not be as high as in Delhi and Mumbai.

Caught On CCTV: Mum Rescues Baby From Train Tracks With Seconds To Spare

A heartstopping video shows the moment a pram with a baby strapped into it rolled from a platform onto railway tracks. The baby was rescued just seconds before a train came in. The incident, which took place at the West Ryde station in Sydney, Australia was captured on CCTV. Footage captured shows how a mum was caught off guard while travelling in an elevator with three children, one in a pram. As the family exited the elevator, the mum turned around to retrieve her elder child and let go of the pram for a moment, upon which it promptly rolled off the platform.

As the pram plunged onto the railway tracks, the mother too jumped down to save her baby.

Both the mother and her baby were pulled to safety just seconds before a train pulled in at the platform.

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Caught On CCTV: Mum Rescues Baby From Train Tracks With Seconds To Spare

CCTV footage shows a mum jumping onto train tracks to save her baby.
A heartstopping video shows the moment a pram with a baby strapped into it rolled from a platform onto railway tracks. The baby was rescued just seconds before a train came in. The incident, which took place at the West Ryde station in Sydney, Australia was captured on CCTV. Footage captured shows how a mum was caught off guard while travelling in an elevator with three children, one in a pram. As the family exited the elevator, the mum turned around to retrieve her elder child and let go of the pram for a moment, upon which it promptly rolled off the platform.

As the pram plunged onto the railway tracks, the mother too jumped down to save her baby.

Both the mother and her baby were pulled to safety just seconds before a train pulled in at the platform.

Watch the video below:

Another video shows just how close a shave this was as a train rolls in:

 

The incident prompted Transport for New South Wales to release safety guidelines on travelling with prams and young children.

Railways To Run 22 Special Trains On Pune-Hatia Route. Details Here

Indian Railways launched several new train services on different routes last week. Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated some of these train services during the weekend while Minister of State Manoj Sinha inaugurated one new train service and an increase in frequency of two trains from Ghazipur. Anticipating an extra rush during the Diwali season, Railways has decided to run superfast weekly special trains at special charges between Pune (Maharashtra) and Hatia (Jharkhand). The superfast trains will run on a weekly basis. They will operate between September and up till December. The new service will hail out of Hatia on Wednesday evenings and will depart from Pune on Fridays, Central Railways said on its website. It will make at total of 11 trips from each side.

The train will run through Daund, Ahmednagar, Kopergaon, Manmad, Bhusaval, Akola, Badnera, Wardha, Nagpur, Gondia, Durg, Raipur, Bilaspur, Jharsuguda and Rourkela. It will be composed of one AC 2-tier, four AC 3-tier, 6 sleeper class, 4 general second class and two general second class-cum-guard’s brake van coaches.

The Superfast weekly special service will leave Pune at 10:45 am every Friday from 22.09.2017 to 01.12.2017 (11 trips) and arrive in Hatia at 6:20 pm next day. From the Hatia side, it will leave Hatia at 9:00 pm every Wednesday from 20.09.2017 to 29.11.2017 (11 trips) and arrive in Pune at 02:45 am on the third day. Bookings for the special trains are open at all PRS (Passenger Reservation System) locations and through website irctc.co.in.

 
the Bandra(T)-Gorakhpur Antyodaya Express. This train service will hail out of Bandra on Sundays and Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) on Tuesdays. The railway stations where the new service will halt include Borivali, Surat, Vadodara, Ratlam, Kota, Kasganj, Kanpur Central, Gonda and Naugarh.

 

All Trains To Northeast Stopped Till August 20 Due To Flood: Railway Official

All trains to the Northeast from rest of the country have been cancelled till August 20 after rail tracks were damaged due to floods in Assam, West Bengal and Bihar, officials said today. “The Railway Board has directed all zonal railways to cancel trains travelling from various parts of the country beyond Malda town and Katihar till August 20, 2017,” Northeast Frontier Railway public relations officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma said in a statement.

Rail connectivity in flood-hit areas in Bihar and West Bengal has been affected too. “However, virtually no accessibility to most of the damaged sites has affected the restoration work. Telecommunication network in the entire section is badly affected also,” Mr Sharma said in the statement.

A railway bridge between Maniyan and Kuretha was damaged by floods today morning, disrupting train communication between Katihar in Bihar and Kumedpur in West Bengal.

“This has further hampered mobilisation of materials to sites,” the railway official said, the railways has arranged special trains between Guwahati in Assam to Dalkhola in West Bengal and back.

“Water is still above danger level in sections like Dalkhola-Telta-Sudhani Barsoi-Raiganj and Balurghat-Buniyadpur. Restoration work is going on. Boulder, ballast and other materials are being arranged from various locations for being used in restoration work,” Mr Sharma said.

He said Northeast-bound rail passengers who earlier had to get down at Katihar station in Bihar have taken trains till Malda in West Bengal.

“On date, there are about 120 passengers, who are stranded at Guwahati station and railway administration is taking all necessary steps to extend all possible assistance to these people,” the statement said.