Indian Railways News

Indian Railways News

No Comparative Analysis henceforth to judge the Performance of Zonal Railways: Efficiency Directorate

To do away with false reporting of data related to failure of assets causing safety threats, accidents and punctuality by zonal railways, Indian Railways has decided that 2018 will be zero year where no comparison of data will be done with previous year to judge the performance of zonal railways.

Railway Board in an order to all 17 Zonal Railways said that it is reviewing annual performance agreement between Zonal Railways and Railway Board.

“With an emphasis on truthful reporting of asset failures and train punctuality and to bring about a culture of righteousness in the way we maintain statistical data, it has been decided that the year 2018-19 will be treated as a zero year, wherein no comparison of asset failures and punctuality will be done vis-à-vis last year to gauge the performance of a zonal railway,” said the directive issued by the Efficiency and Research division in Railway Board.

It further said that in the agreement signed with the railway board, these parameters will not be taken into consideration for any kind of evaluation of performance.

According to sources, zonal railways try to trim down the numbers of failure of assets like signals, tracks, engines and others while reporting to Railway Board to avoid making it to red list. Even, punctuality data of running of trains is tweaked to avoid falling to poor category.

The ministry had  issued a directive earlier also encouraging zonal railways to ensure truthful reporting of data. But, now it has decided to do away with routine comparison process with previous year to judge performance of a zone.

“This move should encourage zonal railways to report failures truthfully and not worry about adverse comparisons with last year’s figures. It may be appreciated that until and unless an honest and realistic picture of the present state of affairs prevailing on the system is generated, any kind of improvement will not be possible,” the directive said.

Several train accidents is last two years have been attributed to poor asset management.

Railways Board has said that it is imperative that all general managers and DRMs lay strong emphasis on correct reporting of asset failures, accidents and train punctuality and project the same in the online reporting system.

Three derailments in Bareilly within 12 hours, Railways sets up probe

Rocked by three derailments in Bareilly division within 12 hours, Railways suspended four supervisors in its engineering section and ordered a probe.

The sequence of inexplicable events began on Sunday evening with Triveni Express derailing just 500 metres away from the Bareilly junction. As petrified passengers rushed out of the train which stopped with a massive jerk, some of them also sustained injuries.

Minutes before the accident, the engineering department had completed the track maintenance work here, officials said.

Shockingly, a relief train departed from Roza station also derailed near the railway yard. In the third derailment, a locomotive returning to Bareilly from Aonla station derailed in Bisaratganj on Monday morning.

Divisional Railway Manager/Moradabad AK Singhal said, “We have set up three teams to probe into the matter. Prima facie, it appears to be dereliction of duty on the part of the engineering section. We have suspended four supervisors – two in Bareilly and one each in Bisaratganj and Roza stations.”

Several trains coming from Lucknow, including Rajya Rani Express, Punjab Mail Express, Kisan Express and Jan Nayak Express, were stuck for hours on the route due to derailment of Triveni Express.

Since April 2017, three major derailments have occurred in three sections of Northern Railway in UP. In the first of these, Rajya Rani Express was derailed on April 15, 2017 near Rampur. On August 19, in another horrific derailment, Kalinga Express jumped tracks in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar.

A total of 21 lives were lost while dozens were injured in the accident. Only four days later, on August 23, another major derailment took place near Auraiya when eight coaches of Kaifiyat Express derailed. More than 20 passengers had sustained injuries in the acciden

Kolkata Metro: ICF Coaches fail Radio Frequency Emission Tests

Two Metro rakes built by a ICF/Perambur and are touted to be the future workhorses of an ageing fleet on Kolkata Metro have flunked a radio frequency emission test after spending eight months waiting for a trial run.

The rakes had arrived from the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Perambur in July 2017 without confirmation of how they would fare on the tracks because the manufacturing unit does not have facilities for a proper trial run.

A test conducted over two nights last week showed the rakes generating higher radio frequency waves than permissible. Engineers said this could disrupt Metro Railway’s signalling system along with mobile phone and television signals.

A radio frequency emission test is one of the basic requirements for electromagnetic compatibility compliance of most electronic and electrical products. Everything from phones, service equipment and modern technological products go through this processThe purpose of these tests is to ensure that other users are protected from the emissions generated when the product is used in their neighbourhood.

This is not the first time that the quality of rakes manufactured at ICF has been called into question. The 13 existing air-conditioned rakes built there have a history of niggles and the occasional breakdown.

Chennai Metro, a joint venture between the central and state governments, has ordered rakes from Brazilian manufacturer Alstom rather than the Perambur factory, located barely 8km from the Tamil Nadu capital. “We placed an order for 33 rakes with Alstom after a global tender. The first four rakes were manufactured in Sao Paulo but the rest will be built by the company in Chennai itself,” an official said.

Sources attributed Metro Railway’s continued dependence on ICF, about 1,600km from Calcutta, to their shared parentage. “More orders have been placed with ICF for AC rakes as this is an indigenous company,” a senior official in the railway ministry said.

The Chinese locomotive company Dalian is also building rakes for Metro Railway, the first of which has already cleared trial runs and is ready for delivery, sources said.

Dalian had won a contract for 14 rakes after the Railway Board invited global bids in 2015.

An official said Metro Railway had been waiting for the new lot of rakes built in Perambur to get the mandatory safety clearance before taking delivery of the Chinese prototype.

Both rakes failing the radio frequency emission test means a new hiccup for the transport lifeline.

“These rakes should generate 20 kilohertz of radio frequency waves but they are emitting more than that. This can lead to the signalling system malfunctioning by turning red or yellow when it is meant to be green or vice-versa,” an official representing ICF said.

The new trains have a series of switches within their electronic circuits that are turned on or off when the speed increases or reduces and the rakes start or stop. This process generates radio frequency waves, the official explained.

Metro Railway is different from newer mass transit systems in terms of power supply, which comes through the third rail along the tracks.

The third rail generates 750 volts of DC current, much less than modern Metro systems that function with 25 kilovolt of AC current. Engineers suspect this is one of the reasons why the new rakes are not compatible with the existing system.

“To generate 25KV of current, the tunnel has to be bigger than the one we have for the existing Metro,” the ICF official said. “Our engineers will be in Calcutta by next week and fix the problem. We need to install an additional radio frequency filter.”

Tests for speed and thermal performance are also pending. For thermal tests, trains will have to do 10 trips non-stop between Noapara and Kavi Subhas (New Garia).

“Safety is our priority and the trains will have to clear all tests before they are used for commercial run,” the official spokesperson for Metro Railway said on Monday.

Eastern DFC: 100% of Land Acquisition achieved, 98% of Land handed over for Works

While the first section of the dedicated freight corridor (DFC) between Ateli and Phulera (192 km) on the western DFC will be ‘completed’ by March end as scheduled, the Bhaupur-Khurja (340 km) stretch on the eastern DFC will be ‘commissioned’ in December. It will be followed by the Rewari-Marwar (452 km) stretch on the western DFC in February 2019.

The Ateli-Phulera section, which lies between Rewari and Ajmer, will not be operationalised as a train at both the ends will have to travel for around 45 minutes to connect the DFC line and the Indian Railways’ line, making it time consuming and economically unviable.

Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL), a special purpose vehicle of the railways, has been entrusted with the job to develop DFCs in the country, and the eastern DFC and the western DFC have been taken up on a priority basis with funding assistance from the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, respectively. DFCs will transfer a minimum of 70% of the freight carried by the Indian Railways on tracks parallel to DFCs.

While the eastern DFC will connect Mughalsarai with Ludhiana, the western DFC will run between Dadri and Jawaharlal Nehru Port.
DFCCIL will be getting a total of `81,000 crore for the two DFCs in a equity-to-debt ratio of 1:3, wherein equity will come from railways.

The total capital expenditure on both DFCs as end-January 2018 was Rs 34,888 crore. Of this, Rs 20,194 crore was on western DFC and the rest was on eastern DFC. A total of around 12,600 ha for the two DFCs has been acquired and compensation of Rs 15,884 crore has been paid.

“Almost 100% of land acquisition is over and 98% have been handed over to contractors. The rest 2% is sub-judice, but the courts have not stalled construction. Compensation will be awarded later once the cases are settled,” said a government official.

The cost of operations on the DFCs is expected to go up by 40%, as it will have longer trains with higher tonnage capacity, compared with the existed operational ones.

The average speed on these tracks is also expected to rise three-fold to 70-75 km per hour from 20-25 km at present. One rack on the DFC will be able to carry 13,000 tonne of load compared with 5,000 tonne carried by racks on the existing railway tracks. Tariffs on these corridors will be lower and once all the corridors are operational, railways’ share in carrying freight is expected to rise to 50% from 30% now.

The entire western DFC is expected to be made operational by December 2020, though the target was set ambitiously in March 2020.

“For the two extreme ends on western DFC, which are Rewari to Dadri and Jawaharlal Nehru Port to Vaitarna (near Virar), while the contractual dates are March 2021 and January 2021, respectively, given that we have an early completion incentive, these are expected to be completed much earlier than the expected dates of December and September 2020 and the deadline (March, 2020) will be missed by only a few months,” the official said.

DFCCIL has offered 0.25% of the contract value as the bonus incentive every week if work is finished before the contractual date. The eastern DFC is scheduled for completion in June 2020.

Policy allowing Private Investments in general-purpose Goods Carriages ready

With demand for wagons set to surge, the cash-strapped Indian Railways has prepared a policy blueprint allowing private investments in general-purpose goods carriages. The idea is that key users of the rail network — including the upcoming dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) — like coal and cement companies will invest in and own the wagons.

The transporter will either offer discounts on freight to these bulk consumers or pay lease rentals to them. Currently, general purpose vehicles are leased in by the railways from its arm, Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC), which gets rentals.

Although an estimate of the potential investments by the consumer-industries is yet to be made, it could run into tens of thousands of crores. Currently, the railways has a 2.5-lakh wagon fleet; it is unable to meet the increased demand for these carriages due to paucity of funds. As against the initial target of acquiring 12,000 wagons in 2017-18, it is set to add just 7,120 (revised estimate) wagons in the year. The target for 2018-19 is kept at 12,000.

A 22.9-tonne axle load wagon costs around Rs 20-21 lakh, compared with Rs 25 lakh for a 25-tonne axle load wagon. There are two categories of general purpose vehicles — open and covered — that are used for multi-commodity transportation. Private investors will be allowed in both categories. Private investments are already permitted in special types of wagons such as car carriers, container carriers, and chemicals and cement ash carriers, among others. The railways in return compensates investors through a rebate on freight. However, coal, iron ore and minerals carried in open wagons and bagged consignments such as foodgrains and fertilisers carried in closed wagons are leased to Indian Railways by IRFC.

The railways has budgeted to invest around Rs 31,882 crore on rolling stock, which includes diesel and electric locomotives, passenger coaches and wagons, in 2018-19. It had revised upwards the estimate for 2017-18 from Rs 25,194 crore to Rs 29,567 crore. According to another source, the railways wants to have the general purpose wagon policy in place before the DFCs start operating as the requirement of wagons will shoot up given that longer wagons of 25-tonne axle load capacity will be required. The first section of the DFC — western — will be operational by the end of this year.

The DK Mittal committee which had submitted report in 2014 suggested public-private partnership (PPP) investments in core operational areas of the railways. All wagons could be owned by the private sector, it said, adding that passenger trains could be either fully owned by private players or taken on lease basis from the transporter. It also advocated that the railways should cease to make direct investments in wagons, locomotives and passenger trains and let the private sector fund the rolling stock

Ministry of Finance Okays Sovereign Guarantee of Rs.5,000-Crore IRFC Bonds for LIC

To make funds available to the Indian Railways, the Ministry of Finance has approved government sovereign guarantee of Rs 5,000 crore for bonds to be issued by Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) before the end of this fiscal. These bonds will be subscribed by Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).

In addition, the finance ministry has also waived the guarantee fee which otherwise IRFC would have paid, thus decreasing the cost of funds for the transporter. The move will allow the public sector undertaking to raise funds from LIC, which was delayed due to restrictions posed by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) rules related to exposure limits.

In March, 2015, the railways had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with LIC under which the country’s largest insurer will have provided financial assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh crore to the transporter between 2015 and 2019. However, despite a requirement to issue bonds worth Rs 30,000 crore per year to achieve the target, the issuance was much below that as LIC and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India sought government guarantee to safeguard the monies of insurance customers.

In March 2015, railways entered into an agreement with LIC, wherein the latter was to provide financial assistance of Rs1.5 trillion for railway projects from 2015 to 2019. Following the agreement, IRFC raised funds from LIC by selling bonds having a tenure of 30 years and remitting the funds to the ministry of railways for construction of infrastructure projects.

According to Ministry of Railways plans, IRFC was supposed to raise Rs30,000 crore annually from LIC. But due to limit constraints, IRFC had only been able to raise Rs16,500 crore in the past three years, according to a report.

LIC had sought for a sovereign guarantee to increase its purchases. The LIC funds cost the railway ministry 30 basis points above the 10-year benchmark yield. The government guarantee will further ease the flow of borrowed funds for railway ministry to undertake new projects like electrification, high-speed corridors, station redevelopment etc and the funds will be used to undertake such projects. The move comes at a time when the Union Budget for 2018-19 has allocated a record Rs.1.48 trillion for Indian Railways to raise its carrying capacity and improve the train travel experience. These include track doubling, third and fourth line works of 18,000 km; 5,000 km of gauge conversion; redeveloping 600 railway stations, equipping them with Wi-Fi and CCTV cameras; introduction of modern train; and escalators for stations with footfalls of more than 25,000 people a day.

According to reports, IRFC has so far raised Rs 16,500 crore from LIC over the past three years. Funds from LIC will be available to the railway ministry at 30 basis points above the 10-year benchmark yield. The current financial year has just two more working days left and the issuance of bond is likely within this period. “The ministry of railways will send the guarantee (documents) to LIC and IRFC will also send the request to take up bonds. Though IRFC expects it to happen within this month, it all depends on LIC,” said a government official. IRFC borrows on behalf of the railways to fund projects and rolling stock. While revised estimate for IR’s extra budgetary resources through IRFC is Rs 24,786 crore for 2017-18, it has been budgeted at Rs 28,500 crore for 2018-19.

Siemens and Alstom have signed a Business Combination Agreement

Siemens and Alstom have entered into a Business Combination Agreement (BCA) regarding the proposed combination of Siemens’ mobility business, including its rail traction drive business, with Alstom.

This BCA follows the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 26 September 2017 and details the terms and conditions agreed upon by the two companies.

“With the signing of the BCA, we have reached an important milestone on the way to building a new leader capable of tackling the challenges of tomorrow’s mobility. Both companies are working diligently and in a very good spirit to progress towards closing,” said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Chairman and CEO of Alstom.

Both Alstom and Siemens also announced the proposed leadership for the future Board of Directors of Siemens Alstom. Siemens is proposing the nomination of Roland Busch, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, to serve as Chairman of the combined entity’s Board of Directors. This role would be in addition to his current duties at Siemens AG.
“Roland Busch is the best person we could nominate for this important task,” said Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of Siemens AG. “Not only is he an expert in global mobility of many years standing, as a Member of the Atos Board of Directors, he has also gained valuable experience in the integration and management of German-French industrial collaborations.”

Yann Delabriere, currently Lead Director of Alstom’s Board would be appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors as Independent Director. It follows the announcement made on 26 September 2017 that Henri Poupart-Lafarge will continue as CEO of the combined company and a Member of the Board of Directors.

“Yann Delabriere’s nomination as Vice-Chairman recognises his expertise and achievements as Lead Director of Alstom. His presence will ensure continuity and bring to the new group his extensive industrial and financial experiences,” added Henri.

These nominations are all subject to the approval of Alstom shareholders as well as completion of the deal itself.

The combined company’s Board of Directors will consist of 11 members, six of whom – including the Chairman – are to be appointed by Siemens. Four independent members and the CEO will complete the Board.

Closing is expected at the end of calendar year 2018 and the transaction is subject to the approval of Alstom shareholders at the company’s Shareholders’ Meeting, planned for July 2018. The transaction also needs to be approved by relevant regulatory authorities, including foreign investment clearance by the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance, and approval by anti-trust authorities. The French capital market authority (AMF) must also confirm that no mandatory takeover offer has to be launched by Siemens following completion of the contribution.

Siemens has already initiated the internal carve-out process to prepare for the combination with Alstom. As part of this transaction, Siemens will receive newly issued shares in the combined company, representing 50 per cent of the share capital of Alstom.

Railways to switch over to Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock to prevent Train Derailments

Indian Railways will soon fit devices on tracks that are aimed at preventing derailment and break-down of trains – a step that will go a big way in enhancing passengers safety. These devices are being fitted Maharashtra and other states will get them soon. According to some officials, the Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock (OMRS) will be installed between Central Railway’s Bhusawal and Jalgaon section as well as Wardha and Nagpur sections within a duration of one year, as part of the first phase of the execution. According to the report, the officials also claimed that with the help of this system, faults in wheels and locomotives (engines), while the train is in operating mode, can be detected.

The platform is being developed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) – an IT arm of Indian Railways.

Under this system, microphones and sensors that record the noise that coaches and locomotives make on the tracks. The officials also said that the condition of the wheels of the coaches or any technical fault will be displayed in yellow, green and red, which will signify wheels are safe, maintenance is required and wearing out of wheels have began, respectively. According to the report, the system, which was also tested in year 2013 will be used in the coming years. Also, 65 systems will be installed. Moreover, for the first phase of the system installation, Indian Railways has selected 25 routes across the nation, where devices will be installed and for this, the national transporter will spend an amount of Rs 113 crore, the report stated.

In addition to this, Indian Railways will also fit as many as 40 systems across various routes such as between Surat and Mumbai, and Mumbai and Roha, in its second phase of implementation. The report also claimed that the system has been examined between Delhi and Panipat. The system, which consists of one control unit, will be set up in Delhi from where the connectivity will be provided to all other zones of Indian Railways.

According to Arun Arora, Chief Mechanical Engineer in Northern Railways, with the help of OMRS, the system will detect the errors as soon as it will capture the sound of wheels. “The Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock (OMRS) system involves the placing of microphones and sensors in such a way that they record any audible noise or measure forces generated while a wagon, coach or locomotive is in motion. The OMRS equipment is extremely sensitive and accurate and can detect the most minute of abnormal noises emanating from rolling stock (railway term for trains)and will alert the control room immediately,” he said.

“This system allows us is to do away with the current method which involves the physical examination of rolling stock in workshops,” Arora said.

Another official said that it would ensure faster maintenance of coaches and also allow coaches to be monitored using mobile communication facilities.

The Railways has also decided to install equipment called the Centre Buffer Coupling (CBC) to ensure that coaches of a train don’t climb onto each other in case of a derailment, an official said.

The coupling is a piece of equipment that binds coaches of a train into one unit.

Older, conventional coaches made at the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory have screw coupling which tend to rip apart due to the impact of a derailment, an official explained.

The newer Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coaches are fitted with CBC which prevent extensive damage to coaches in case of a derailment.

In addition to this, recently, Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry has also decided to redevelop platforms across all Mumbai suburban railway stations in order to enhance safety of railway passengers across Mumbai suburban railways. In 2015, the work of raising 421 platforms across Central and Western Railway suburban sections was started and so far 344 platforms have been raised already. The Railway Ministry has targeted July 2018 in order to complete the overall development.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train to run every 20 Minutes in peak hours

The proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train service would be available every 20 minutes from the originating station at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai, Achal Khare, the Managing Director of the National High Speed Railway Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), said on Sunday.

While three train services will run during peak hours, two train services would operate during non-peak hours. The bullet train that would run at a speed of 320 kmph is expected to travel from Mumbai to Ahmedabad within two hours. At present, it takes seven hours by train and an hour by flight.

According to senior railway officials, the segment continues to remain in high demand with the Western Railway operating at least 20 trains daily. Every day as many as 10 flights are planned between Mumbai and Ahmedabad to cater to the passenger demand.

“There would be 35 pairs of bullet train services, which means the trains will make 70 trips in a day between the two cities. During the peak hour (7am to 10 am in the morning and 5pm to 9 pm in evening) we plan to run services of three trains, and two trains during off-peak hours between the cities. This would be on a daily basis,” Khare said.

There are 12 stations on the bullet train route —- BKC, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Baroda, Anand, Sabarmati and Ahmedabad. The NHSRCL would run both fast trains that would halt at Mumbai, Surat, Baroda and Ahmedabad and slow trains which would stop at all 12 stations.

“We are in the process to buy 24 bullet train rakes of E-5 series running on Shinkansen technology from the Japanese government. To ensure there are enough train rakes, we would keep 20 trains in operation and the rest on standby for emergencies. This would ensure a free flow of services on the route,” Khare added.

The Mumbai to Ahmedabad sees passenger traffic mainly has entrepreneurs and textile and diamond merchants. The number of annual passengers on the route is expected to increase to 3 lakh from 1.5 lakh people at present. Khare said the bullet train would also attract air travellers who spend roughly three hours on average to travel to and from the airport in addition to flight time.

“According to our study, there are as many as 4,700 passengers who travel daily by flights between Mumbai and Amhedabad. While 5,000 passengers take trains every day, around 15,000 people use cars to commute. We plan to carry at least 40,000 passengers on a daily basis between the two cities once the bullet train is in operation,” Khare added.

While the bullet train would have ten coaches consisting of one executive coach and nine general coaches by 2023, the total number of coaches would increase to 15 by 2033 to handle additional passenger traffic. There would be 750 seats in a ten-coach train and 1,250 seats in a fifteen-coach train.

“There would be both general and reserved coaches on the train that would allow passengers to travel unreserved. Baggage checking facility would be available at stations which would not take much time. While passenger luggage would be parked in the luggage carrying space near the coach, small bags and handbags could be kept in overhead compartments,” Khare added.

For the first time, an Indian train will have washrooms for men and women. The bullet train would have seven toilets for men and women and an exclusive women’s toilet. Folding beds, rotating chairs would be among the other features.

The Maharashtra Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Railways for handing over land for the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) station building in February. “This station will be underground at about 25-metre depth and will be integrated with International Finance service Center (IFSC) building proposed above it. We plan to star work on constructing the Bandra Kurla Complex Terminus (BKC) by the end of this year. Trials of the coaches would begin by 2021 on the route.The train would be run by one driver and we would have conductors to check tickets of passengers. There would be on board signalling system for drivers,” Khare added.

Railways open to standing users on bullet train

The big-ticket bullet train project could have a flavour of Mumbai’s local trains – standing users – if the high-speed corridor sees heavy demand. The new-age transit system will connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad and is expected to be operational by 2022.

The National High Speed Rail Corporation, the implementing authority, said on Sunday that it was open to the idea of letting more travellers beyond the train’s seating capacity. “If the people are ready then we will allow standees inside the bullet train,” said Achal Khare, Managing Director of NHSRCL.

This means passengers wishing to cut travel time on the 508-km route will be able to hop on the 10-car train for short journeys without worrying much about having a confirmed ticket. The new-age services will cover the entire stretch between 1 hour 55 minutes and two-and-half hours and will have 12 stations, including BKC, Surat Vadodara, and Sabarmati.

“We will have to run trials for at least 10,000 km before putting it on for public use and so the first train has to come by 2021,” said Khare. The NHSRCL may also go for monthly passes if there is a demand for it.

Equipped with a state-of-the art technology from Japan, officials say, the ride on the bullet train will be a lot smoother even if for those standing. It won’t wobble sideways, like the local trains do, despite moving at over 300 km per hour, said a senior NHSRCL official.

The 10-car train will have a capacity of 750 passengers and can accommodate as many standees. By 2033, authorities plan to add six cars to increase the seats to 1250. The fares will, however, be same for all on board. The proposed fare from BKC to Thane fare is Rs 250, it’s Rs 500 for BKC-Virar, and Rs 750 on BKC-Boisar.

Of the 10 cars, there will be one business class and the rest will be general compartments. On the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, they expect 40000 passengers every day to use this bullet train. Off these, they expect 14000 people using their private vehicles and taxis to shift to the bullet train, 6500 passengers of airlines and rest from other long distance trains.

The work on first rail station for the bullet train will begin from November at BKC. The NHSRCL has begun the process of land acquisition. There are 108 villages where land will be acquired from nearly 10,000 people. Khare said, “We plan to acquire entire 1415 hectares of land by December 18. We are looking at compensation to the tune of Rs 10000 crore.”

Punalur-Sengottai Rail Route on Madurai Division to be opened in a month

The Punalur – Sengottai rail route on Madurai Division of Southern Railway will be opened within a month.  This route would be the third and shortest rail route to reach Chennai from the state. Currently, there are train services to Chennai via Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram. The broadened rail route connecting Punalur and Sengottai will be commissioned by April as the re-alignment of the track in Edamon reach suggested by the chief safety commissioner is complete. In the first phase, six passenger trains are likely to operate along the route bridging the two states, from Madurai, Sengottai, Kollam and Tirunelveli. The Express trains will have to wait for at least six months after the commissioning of the new rail route, considering safety issues.

The trains are expected to take more than two hours to cover 49 kilometres, the distance between Punalur and Sengottai, as the route is mostly through ghat areas. The speed along the route has been limited to 30 kilometres per hour in the primary phase which will be advanced further. The railways also has plans to consider the proposal to declare the rail route as a heritage tourism route, taking advantage of its course through the Western Ghats along the Aryankavu – Punalur stretch. The major considerations will be nature tourism and heritage tourism as the route already consists of historical structures constructed by the British.

The rail route includes a heritage 13-arch bridge along the 45-kilometre-long railway line from Punalur to Shenkotta, commissioned in 1903. The bridge which is 102.72 metres long and 5.18 metres in height was constructed using the ancient Surki method by the British. It has now been strengthened using concrete jacketing. The heritage look will be artificially created by fixing the walls with tiles resembling old construction blocks.

The metre-gauge rail service along the Punalur – Shenkotta stretch was stopped since September 2010. The Punalur- Shenkotta section is part of the 325-km Kollam- Shenkotta -Tenkasi- Tirunelveli- Thiruchendur gauge conversion project carried out by the construction wing of the Indian Railways. The rail route along Shenkotta-Thiruchendur and Kollam-Punalur sections have already been opened for rail traffic.