Indian Railways News

Indian Railways News

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.

“We have enough funding for all our safety-related projects, for all our growth plans… for whatever is the investments required, we will be able to raise a large part of that fund internally within the Railways,” he said further.

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.”

Indian steel shortfall causes clash over Railways demand for rail imports

India’s steel and rail ministries are at loggerheads over the state-run network’s proposal to buy much-needed rails from overseas, a move that would undermine Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to build key infrastructure in India.

India’s Ministry of Railways, which manages the world’s fourth-largest rail network, has grappled with a spate of accidents. Modi’s government wants to overhaul the country’s ageing tracks, but shortages of steel produced by state-run Steel Authority of IndiaBSE 0.86 % Ltd (SAILBSE 0.86 %) have slowed progress.

The clash highlights the dilemma the government faces as it tries to promote local production through the “Make in India” campaign at the same time it faces resistance from some state buyers who need to procure goods as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Indian Railways issued a tender seeking 717,000 tonnes of steel rails on Oct. 18, which was the first time the state-run railroad operator sought overseas rails. The tender could be worth an estimated 30 billion rupees ($464 million) for global steel majors such as ArcelorMittal and Thyssenkrupp .

That amount will make up SAIL’s shortfall for the next two financial years.

For the financial year for 2017/18, SAIL is expected to supply 920,000 tonnes, only 65 percent of the target, according to a letter sent by Indian Railways to the Steel Ministry dated Oct. 18 and reviewed by Reuters.

Indian Railways maintains that passenger safety justifies an exemption to the “Make in India” policy. The government could allow an exception if there are shortages or specific grades of steel are unavailable.

In a letter to Lohani from Aruna Sharma, the secretary at the Steel Ministry, dated Oct. 23 and reviewed by Reuters, the ministry urged the railways “to follow the procedure” on steel procurement, but said it would examine the need for a waiver.

In September, Modi named a new railways minister to oversee a $130 billion, five-year modernisation programme and to replace some of the 92,000 km of tracks operated by Indian Railways.

The railways are a lifeline for the more than 20 million mostly poorer people who use it every day. In February, the government launched a $15 billion fund dedicated to ending the rising number of train accidents caused by track defects.

India’s state-owned companies such as SAIL maintain large roles in key industries and infrastructure projects, despite struggling with inefficiencies.

Reuters has previously reported that the railways this year considered ending SAIL’s decades-long monopoly supplying steel.

Private firm Jindal Steel and PowerBSE 0.11 %, the only domestic alternative, pitched its services at the Friday meeting, the three people attending said, but railway officials raised concerns that it lacks experience building rails.




Indian Railways opens door to private steel manufacturers

Indian Railways has floated a global tender to procure rails, a move that may end the monopoly of state-run supplier Steel Authority of IndiaBSE 0.98 % Ltd. as Asia’s oldest network seeks to plug a supply shortfall.

The state-run freight and passenger carrier is seeking to buy 700,000 metric tons of rails for track upgrades, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said. The move will ensure steady supplies and competitive prices. Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., one of the biggest non-state steelmaker, may benefit as it’s the only other local producer of this grade, according to Goutam Chakraborty, an analyst at Emkay Global Financial Services.

“If Steel Authority cannot supply, then they will go in for other producers. So in that way, JSPL will definitely be benefiting,” Chakraborty said by phone from Mumbai. “The railways’ first preference will always be Steel Authority.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pouring about 8.6 trillion rupees ($132 billion) to upgrade the aging lines of the network that was started under British colonial rule. Giant track-laying projects are underway to modernize passenger and freight movements to cut travel time.

Market Share
The tender gains significance as Steel Authority and Jindal Steel have been trying to boost market share and profits after reporting losses for at least two straight years even as they battle high debt levels. Indian Railways expects annual demand for steel rails to rise to 1.5 million tons in the year ending March from about 800,000 tons in the prior 12-month period.

2020 deadline to redevelop 10 railway stations with airport-like amenities

The government has set a 2020 deadline to redevelop 10 railway stations into world classsmart facilities with airport-like amenities at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore. The redevelopment of stations will be carried out under a self-financing model through land monetisation by state-run NBCC.

The stations selected for the project are Delhi Sarai Rohilla, Lucknow, Gomti Nagar, Kota, Tirupati, Nellore, Ernakulam, Puducherry, Madgaon and Thane.

“The redevelopment work will start at a few stations by December-end or early next year. The concept designs are already being worked out,” NBCC chairman AK Mittal told ET. “We’re targeting the completion in another two to two-and-a-half years. The monetisation would be done through commercial exploitation of the land that railway provides.”

Indian Railways’ Panchavati Express enters 43rd year

The Manmad-Mumbai ‘Panchavati Express’ today completed 42 years of its operations, Central Railway officials said.

The train passes through Nashik and several traders use it daily to commute to Mumbai from the North Maharashtra city.

Nashik MP Hemant Godse and others cut a cake at the Nashik Road railway station, when the train arrived at around 7 AM, the CR officials said.

The train, which starts from Manmad, terminates at the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

JSPL keen to supply rails to Indian Railways

Jindal Steel and Power LtdBSE 0.29 % (JSPL) is keen to participate in a tender floated by the Indian Railways for procuring rails, a senior company official said today.

The Ministry of Railways has recently floated a global tender to procure 7 lakh tonnes of rails worth Rs 3,500 crore. This is the first time that the railways has come up with such a tender.

Terming it a “not-to-miss opportunity”, JSPL’s corporate strategy head Kapil Mantri told PTI, “We are already supplying rails to railways of other countries and if we are able to grab it (tender) this will be the first opportunity for us (in the country).”

In India, JSPL is the only company manufacturing rails besides public sector Steel Authority of IndiaBSE 1.29 % Ltd (SAILBSE 1.29 %), he said.

Mantri further said that JSPL is, however, supplying rails for metro projects in India as well as abroad.

At present, SAIL is the only company supplying rails to the country’s largest transport network railways. SAIL’s Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) is country’s sole producer and supplier of rails to Indian Railways including 260-metre long rails.

REC may fund Indian Railways’ drive to electrify entire network

The Indian Railways may rope in state-owned Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) to fund its ambitious plan to electrify the entire network by 2021-22. The corporation is likely to lend the railways the entire project cost of around Rs 30,000 crore, spanning over four-five years, at an annual interest rate of 9% for a lending period of 8-10 years, a top railway ministry official said.

The railways will be spending almost Rs 8,000 crore every year towards electrification for the next four years. Railway minister Piyush Goyal recently met top REC officials and discussed the funding for the electrification project, the official added.

“The railways has prepared a Rs 35,000-crore plan to electrify its remaining 33,000 km network in another four years. However, the minister is of the view that we can reduce the cost by 20-25% by giving out large contract sizes and standardising the designs. He has already instructed officials to work on it,” the official said.

The cost of electrification works out to slightly more than Rs 1 crore a km. By going fully electric, the national transporter will save Rs 10,500 crore every year on account of fuel. The railways currently has an energy bill of Rs 26,500 crore.

Government approves one-time waiver of Railways’ dividend payout

The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal for a one-time waiver of the Indian Railways’ dividend payout of around Rs 9,000 crore to the general exchequer for 2016-17.

With this, the railways can now approach the Parliament for its approval to the waiver.

After the merger of the railway budget with the general budget last year, it was decided that the national transporter would not have to pay dividend for the capital invested in it.

While the railways was budgeted to pay Rs 9,730 crore as dividend for the 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.

“The Cabinet approves the proposal of the Ministry of Railways to move a resolution in both the houses of Parliament adopting the 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,” a Press Information Bureau (PIB) release said.


Train services disrupted at Kharagpur Station on Sunday

Train services at Kharagpur Station will be disrupted for 24 hours on Sunday owing the installation of state-of-the-art solid state interlocking system, the largest in Asia, at Kharagpur in West Midnapore district.

Work had been on since November 4 and is expected to be completed on Sunday.

Trains from different stations have been stopped at places such as Balichak, Hijli, Kalaikunda and Girimaidan. Bus services from those places to Kharagpur have been initiated but commuters complained that those were far from being enough.

Many express trains and about 90 per cent local trains had been cancelled owing to the ongoing work. There had been smaller disruptions since work started but since November 17 the major disruptions began.

A senior Railway official of Kharagpur said that the technology, once installed will help in controlling train movements on about 800 routes through computer. “Speed of trains will increase, time will be maintained and smaller accidents would be averted,” he said.

It was found out that the new system which is being installed at a cost of over 39 crore in replacing the previous one which has long passed its codal life. He also said that platforms 7 and 8 had been operational during the work with two additional lines – one from Midnapore and the other from Howrah – had been linked to Kharagpur to enhance capacity.

Another senior official said that at least three signal cabins would not be of any use after the upgradation and fewer station masters would be required at Kharagpur.

Test runs have been conducted in the last 7-8 months and the new system would ensure that trains would not meet bang into each other at crossings.

Normal train services are expected to resume from November 20.

3 Rly workers, all women, run over by train

Three women were killed and another one was severely injured after they came under a running train on Saturday afternoon.

All the women were contract labourers who were working on the railway tracks between Malad and Goregaon station.

The deceased have been identified as Shivani Bhoryalay, 18, Anita Shinde, 32, and Jaya Khatawase, 35. Shivani’s mother Sunita has sustained severe injuries in the accident. All the deceased hailed from Madhya Pradesh.

The women, after completing their work of deep screening (checking stones laid on tracks), were walking towards the Malad railway station around 12.15 pm when they were run over by holiday special Bandra Terminus-Indore Express.

All the four women were moved to civic-run Shatabdi hospital where doctors declared them dead. The injured woman is undergoing treatment.

“We were working since 9 am and were about to finish around noon. The four women began walking towards Malad station on the same track they were working on. As the train approached, many people tried to alert them, but it was too late,” said Hemant Singh, the site supervisor.

Railway officials termed the presence of labourers on the spot illegal and an act of trespassing, a term used to describe illegal crossing of tracks.

“The women were contract labourers and not railway employees. Their work place was far from the accident site. They were trespassing the railway tracks between Malad and Goregaon stations,” said Chief Public Relations Officer of Western Railway (WR) Ravinder Bhakar.

Purushottam Karad, deputy commissioner of police, Government Railway Police, WR, said, “Four women were run over by a train, three of them died on the spot and one of them have sustained severe injuries. We have registered an accidental death report at the Borivali Railway police station,”

Ajay Singh, divisional secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh, said: “The Railways should ensure that although these are contract labourers as per labour laws, proper salaries, provident fund and insurance are paid to them. They should also be given necessary safety gear”.

Meanwhile, the Borivali police have recorded the statements of family members of the deceased, labour contractor and supervisor of the site along with other eyewitnesses.