Indian Railways News

Indian Railways News

ECOR to install Wi-Fi in small stations through Universal Services Obligation Fund

The Railway Board has recently approved the provision of installing free Wi-Fi hotspots at 200 rural and remote stations across the country through Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) of the Centre. RailTel, a company under the ministry of railways, will carry out the project. USOF, which comes under department of telecommunications, has an objective to provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality ICT (information and communications technology) services to people in rural and remote areas.

Stations like Malatipatpur, Sakhigopal, Birapurusottampur, Delang, Motori, Retang, Mancheswar, Barang, Gopalpur, Balikuda and other small stations under the jurisdiction of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) will be provided with free Wi-Fi service through the USOF project.

These stations will get high speed internet facility like Bhubaneswar, Puri and Visakhapatnam. Passengers passing the stations and local people can enjoy the free Wi-Fi facility at these stations. Target for completion of the project is March 2018.

Umesh Singh, ECoR General Manager, has reviewed the progress of Wi-Fi services in different stations and asked all concerned officials to expedite the new work.

The zone has already installed Wi-Fi services at small stations like Keonjhargarh, Paradeep, Tikiri and Bissamcuttack with the help of local industries, corporate houses and social organisations. The zone had decided on its own to request some corporate houses to invest their CSR fund to provide the service at some rural stations. This fund will boost their plan, said a senior railway officer.

Besides this, the ECoR has already installed Wi-Fi hotspots at all A1 category stations like Bhubaneswar and A category stations like Cuttack of the ECoR.

Woman Gang-Raped For 7 Hours In Madhya Pradesh

A 38-year-old woman who works as a labourer was allegedly raped by five men near a railway station in Madhya Pradesh for nearly seven hours, police said on Tuesday.

The incident took place on November 18, but was only reported on Monday evening, a senior police officer from the Habibganj railway police station BL Sen told news agency Press Trust of India. The woman alleged that she had earlier gone to Obaidullagunj police station, but was asked to go to Habibganj.

Mr Sen said the woman was waiting for a train at Obaidullaganj station to go to Budhni, where she worked, when she met with an acquaintance who offered to arrange someone to drop her on a motorcycle. She agreed to go with him, police said.

However, instead of taking her to her village, the accused allegedly took her to a deserted place and raped her. The man then called four of his friends who allegedly took her to a railway under-bridge near Obaidullaganj station and raped her again, Mr Sen said.

The woman managed to reach home on Sunday morning and filed a complaint with Habibganj police station on Monday, Mr Sen said. “We will soon arrest the accused,” he said, adding the accused have been booked for gang-rape. The medical report of the woman is yet to come.

 The head constable of the police station said the woman had also complained about being turned away from Obaidullaganj police station by a policeman sitting outside the station, who told her to go to Habibganj GRP station instead.

The police station in-charge at Obaidullaganj denied the accusation and said she had not turned up at the police station or spoken to anyone outside.

“This police station is located by a national highway. I am not aware if any outside person or the policeman of any other station asked her to go to GRP Habibganj police station,” the police station in-charge added.

On October 31, a 19-year-old student was raped for three hours in Bhopal. The police had made her wait for hours before taking her complaint, which led to the suspension of six officers.

In another incident, a 10-year-old was gang-raped by a 65-year-old and watchman and two others in Bhopal over three months.

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.

IRDA for special status to Railways’ bonds

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irda), Indian Railways and Life Insurance Corporation of India are in disagreement over the ‘status’ of the proposed borrowing by the Railways as the regulator demands that the funds belonging to millions of common insurers be ring-fenced as stipulated by regulations, two people familiar with the developments said.
“Irda wants the department of economic affairs to classify the railway bond as special bond, notifying this in a special gazette for LIC to invest Rs 1.5 lakh crore in the Railways,” said one of the persons cited above. The Railway Board, however, is of the view that investment in railways should come under the approved category of investment without the need for an explicit government guarantee.
The insurance regulator wants the government to back the bonds with a sovereign guarantee and a gazette notification. This would also ensure that it gets high investment grade credit rating, said those people who did not want to be identified.
Under this category, an insurance company can invest up to 70% of its AUM in instruments, including papers of AA investment grade and government securities. Such securities don’t necessarily need a government guarantee.

Such a move would reduce the cost of borrowing for the Railways, hedge LIC’s investment and expand its investment limit. The issue was discussed on Tuesday in a meeting of officials from the departments of financial services and the economic affairs, the Railway Board and the Irda. It was attended by Mritunjay Singh, under secretary in the department of financial services; K Kadiresan, from the investment department of LIC; Namita Mehrotra, executive director of Railway Board; and SN Jayasimhan  ..

In Bengaluru, passengers bank on WhatsApp for real-time train updates

BENGALURU: How social media savvy is Bengaluru? Even before the clock strikes 8 in the morning, a WhatsApp group of office-goers called ‘Train to ITPL (4)’ gets flooded with real-time updates on suburban train services. In less than an hour, the 255-member group exchanges not less than 200 to 300 messages, all related to the location of their commute.

The group, among several others, goes mute throughout the day but the interactions resume once it is time to return home from work.

In the absence of instant information on trains (arrival and departure), users have created WhatsApp groups for real-time information. Members of these groups are mostly strangers to each other but who depend on trains for daily commute in the city.
WhatsApp groups like these have become more useful than mobile applications such as the official ‘Indian Railways’ NTES or ‘Where is my train’. Though these mobile apps are popular, users believe the information is not real-time.

“I know exactly where a particular train is all because of the instant updates I get from group members. Even though there are many mobile apps which provide train schedules, the delay in services are not reflected in those apps. For updates on trains to Whitefield alone, there are five WhatsApp groups,” Manohar DC, an engineer with Dell EMC Corporation at Mahadevapura, said.
With trains not always punctual, these groups are helping commuters plan their travel. “There are enough trains but they are not on time. There were days I spent more than an hour waiting for the train. I can avoid that now,” Pavan Diggavi, who works for the ITPB in Whitefield, said.

Railways not to seek more funds from Budget: Piyush Goyal

Indian Railways is not looking at more funds in the upcoming Union Budget for 2018-19 as it is focussed on monetising assets within, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said.

The Budget that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents on February 1 next year will be the second after the railway and Union budgets were merged in a break with the colonial-era tradition.

“Frankly, I don’t need any funds from the Union Budget. The Railways is looking at innovative ways to finance its expenditure,” he told here.

He was replying to a question on what the focus area of the funds that the Railways would seek from the Union Budget.

“We are looking at a much faster and efficient delivery of service to passengers and to our customers for freight,” he said.

Goyal, who after transforming the power sector took over the railway portfolio in September, said the Asia’s oldest railway network will not be constrained of funds at all.

“To my mind, there are many opportunities in the Railways to monetise assets within the Railways. So frankly, I will not be constrained for funds at all,” he said.

The Budget that Jaitley presented on February 1 this year broke the tradition since 1924 of having a separate railway budget.

In it, he announced the largest-ever allocation of Rs 1.3 lakh crore to the Indian Railways, with a gross budgetary support of Rs 55,000 crore.

Also, it was announced that the national carrier will focus on four major areas of passenger safety, capital and development works, cleanliness and finance and accounting reforms.

He also said the Budget for 2018-19 can allocate more funds for public welfare.

“So, Finance Minister Mr Jaitley can provide more funds for public welfare to health and education out of the funds which he will save from the Railways,” he said.

Asked if a fare hike is ruled out, Goyal said, “I believe we need to do an efficiency hike more than a fare hike.”


How Isro is helping Indian Railways to curb accidents at unmanned crossings

Keeping a watch

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is helping the Indian Railways use its satellite-based system to check accidents at unmanned railway crossings and track train movements on a real-time basis.

Testing underway

Isro and the Indian Railways have been working together on this pilot project since June. Under the project, IC chips have been installed on five engines of trains on different routes. The testing on the satellite-based hooter system has been going on since June to check if it is reliable and can function under different climatic conditions.

Satellites used for the project

Isro is using its constellation of seven navigation satellites (IRNSS or NaVIC) for the railway safety system as the technology, once the pilot project is over successfully, will be installed on all trains across the country in phased manner.


Railways to use Artificial Intelligence for preventing signal failures

Aiming to reduce the possibilities of signals failing, Indian Railways has undertaken remote condition monitoring of the system, a new approach for the national transporter, to predict failures through the effective use of Artificial Intelligence.

The Signalling system is vital for safe train operations and the railways completely depend on the health of its signalling assets alongwith real time information.

Currently, the railways follow a manual maintenance system and adopt find-and-fix methods rather than predict-and-prevent approach.

“Now, we are introducing remote condition monitoring using non-intrusive sensors for continuous online monitoring of signals, track circuits, axle counters and their sub-systems of interlocking, power supply systems including the voltage and current levels, relays, timers,” said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project.

The system entails the collection of inputs on a pre-determined interval and sending this to a central location.

As a result, any flaws or problems in the signalling system would be detected on a real time basis and rectified to avoid possible delays and mishaps.

2 Suspected Bangladesh Terrorists, Indian Operative Arrested In Kolkata

Two terror suspects from Bangladesh and a Bengal-based arms dealer were arrested today at the Kolkata Railway Station by the elite Special Task Force (STF) of the police. One of the Bangladeshis had a fake Aadhaar card. They had met up with the gun-runner to strike an arms deal.

Based on flash drives, papers and other seizures from the two Bangladeshis, the STF said they appear to be operatives of Ansarul Bangla, a terror outfit operating in Bangladeshi till it was banned recently.

Besides links with several murders of bloggers in that country, Ansarul Bangla is also known to have links with the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent or AQIS.

he two Bangladeshi nationals are 25-year-old Samsad Mian aka Tanvir aka Saiful of Sylhet district and 26-year old Riaz aka Riazul Islam aka Sumon of Khulna district.

Samsad Mian has a fake Aadhaar card in the name of Tushar Biswas. Samsad claims he is a civil engineer.

Monotosh Dey, 46, is a resident of the Bashirhat area of North 24 Parganas district about 100 km from Kolkata.

A 32 mm pistol and a “one-shotter” gun were seized from the trio. Also seized, a book on how to make explosives, visiting cards of shops selling chemicals, books on how to reconnoitre an area, speeches in Bengali and English related to Al Qaeda, laptop and flash drives.

Some papers with the words ‘Eden Gardens’ and ‘Dharmtala’ – two key places in Kolkata – were also recovered from them.

“We got the central intelligence tip off just after the Durga Pujas, when preparations were beginning for the Under 17 FIFA World Cup,” said Murlidhar Sharma of the STF.

“We immediately began surveillance in and around Kolkata. It was not easy to trace them as they did not stay in hotels or guest houses but at rail stations and bus stops most times. Four-five days ago, we narrowed down on the two Bangladeshis and caught them when they met with the arms dealer,” he added.

Police will examine the seized material for a clearer idea of the motives of the suspected terror operatives. What is apparently confirmed is that the two Bangladeshis have been in India for the last 18 months but were not able to produce a passport or visa.

Will Phase Out Diesel Locomotives In 5 Years: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal

Coal and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said the Indian Railways will completely phase out diesel locomotives in the next five years and will switch to electric locomotives with the focus on increasing speed.

“We have planned to switch all trains to be electric-driven in the next five years,” Mr Goyal said, addressing the National Executive Council members of FICCI.

By phasing out diesel locomotives, the Railways will save about Rs. 11,500 crore annually, he said.

“The diesel locomotives will be used for back up purposes in the yards.”

Stressing on the safety of passengers, the railway minister also said that he has directed the railway officials to speed up the production of the Linke-Hofmann-Busch (LHB) coaches instead of relying on the Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) coaches.

We are promoting LHB type coaches as they are more safer as compared to the ICF coaches,” he said, adding that June 2018 will be the last month for the ICF coaches to be manufactured.

“I have also asked the rail coach factories to develop the LHB coaches and also asked the Rae Bareli coach factory to double up its production, as it currently has the capacity to build 1,000 coaches annually.”

Mr Goyal said that he had also spoken to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to allot 200 acres more land for the expansion of the Rae Bareli coach factory.

He also defined his tenure in the last 77 days as the Railways Minister as a “good learning experience”. “I got a chance to take a number of policy decisions here.”

He said he has taken upward 600 policy decisions on policy matters of the Railways.

“For safety of passengers also we have approved 372 escalators in Mumbai suburban alone and we will have close to 3,000 escalators being set up in the Railways across the country,” Mr Goyal said.

He assured the industry that there is no fund shortage for safety-related items in the Railways.