Indian Railways News

Indian Railways News

NMR to introduce Summer Special train services from tomorrow

The Nilgiri Mountain Railways (NMR) is all set to introduce summer special services on weekends from this Saturday. Titled Heritage Steam Voyage, the train services would be operated between Mettupalayam and Coonoor, a stretch of 30km, on all Saturdays and Sundays, starting March 31 to June 24.

The summer special train would feature two first class coaches and one second class chair car coach. The fully reserved train would start from Mettupalayam at 9.10am and reach Coonoor at 12.30pm, with stoppages at Kallar and Hillgrove. The train would then depart from Coonoor at 1.30pm and reach Mettupalayam at 4.20pm. During the return journey too, the train would stop at Kallar and Hillgrove.

The total seating capacity of the special train would be 132, including 32 first class seats.

Until 2012, summer special train services in NMR section were available between April 15 and June 15. But after 2012, it was cancelled for reasons unknown.

Meanwhile, members of the Heritage Steam Chariot Trust said the condition of the loco shed at Mettupalayam railway station was a cause of concern and urged authorities to take steps to repair the same to avoid any untoward incident.

“A dilapidated loco shed in the Mettupalayam railway station is a disgrace to the NMR heritage site. It is high time that the railway authorities took up the issue immediately,” K Natarajan, managing trustee, Heritage Steam Chariot Trust, said.

Harishankar Varma, divisional regional manager, Southern Railways (Salem Division), said the loco shed has a huge crack on one side of the wall. “I have passed an order to renovate the structure, but only half the portion. The remaining will be demolished and constructed anew. A plaque will also be installed there to depict its heritage value,” he said.

Khurda Road Division sends Parcel Express loading Soft Drinks for first time

division of the (ECoR) transported soft drinks from Road station for the first time. This is a new traffic for the division which traditionally carries bulk items like coal, iron ore, cement, wheat and rice in goods trains.

It had dispatched the first train on Saturday from Khurda Road station to Fatuha station in Patna of Bihar. With the success of the first parcel express, the soft drink company has now placed order for the second parcel express, this time to in Bihar.

Railway sources said a local bottling plant of a branded soft drinks manufacturer has requested the ECoR for the transportation. “Faced with lots of difficulties in dispatching soft drinks by road, the manufacturers approached Railways through their logistics provider,” said an ECoR statement.

ECoR had provided a parcel train with 20 parcel vans for carrying soft drinks from Khurda Road to Fatuha. Each parcel train is expected to fetch the Railways an amount of more than Rs 12 lakh as revenue, said an ECoR spokesperson.

Transportation of such consumer products assumes significance for ECoR. It will bring about a sea change in the logistics scenario of the state. “Rail movement is generally preferred over road traffic as it can carry twenty times the volume and deliver the goods in less than half the time compared to road traffic,” said an official statement.

Transportation of soft drinks by parcel express has given a new source of income for the Railways. Carrying the goods manufactured in Odisha to other states is a good sign for industry.

No Unmanned Level Crossings in Khurda Road Division of ECOR from April 1

By March 31, all un-manned level crossings (ULCs) under the jurisdiction of Khurda Road Division will have been closed.In its bid to reduce mishaps and human casualties, the East Coast Railway has pushed the process of shutting down unmanned crossings across the divisions. By doing away the ULCs ahead of schedule, the Khurda Road Division is set to become the first division in ECoR to achieve the feat.

Khurda Road is the biggest division under ECoR with a total railway network length of 1,700 km. It also happens to be the top earner in Indian Railway.ECoR sources said, as many as 19 unmanned level crossings existed by April 1, 2017 and the railway Board had set 2020 deadline to close them down. However, the Khurda Road Division has successfully implemented the order.

According to available statistics, the division did away with 297 unmanned level crossings between April 2014 and March 2018. Of them, as many as 43 were outrightly closed while 38 crossings were provided with either road under bridge or limited height subways. In case of 27 ULCs, diversion were provided while 189 were manned.

Since rising deaths caused by mishaps are a major cause of concern at the unmanned level crossings, the move to close them are expected to give a boost to safety which has been top on agenda of Indian Railway.

The ECoR sources say that as many as eight persons have died in the last six years in mishaps at unmanned railway crossings under Khurda Road Division. The spate of accidents prompted the Railways to shut down the crossings by 2020.

Since 2014 August, the ECoR sources say, the division has deployed gate mitras and counsellors at 74 vulnerable level crossings to prevent accidents by alerting commuters about approaching trains. Recently, these personnel were made available at the gates round the clock with fluorescent safety jackets.

Safety step

As many as 19 unmanned level crossings existed by April 1, 2017 and the Railway Board had set 2020 deadline to close them down
The decision was aimed at reducing mishaps and human casualties Khurda Road Division is set to become the first division in ECoR to achieve the feat

Mumbai’s Andheri-Goregaon Harbour Line service to be inaugurated today

After a long wait that saw several extended deadlines, the harbour line from Goregoan will be thrown open to the public from Thursday, as the Western Railway (WR) has completed all technical formalities suggested by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) last month.

According to WR, around 13,000 commuters between Kandivali-Jogeshwari stretch will benefit with the new service, since so far commuters have to get down at Andheri to switch to the harbour line.

A total of 49 services will be started from Goregaon from Thursday. The new services will ply between Gore-gaon and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) daily. The line will be extended to Panvel later, revealed officials.

Harbour line extension from Andheri to Goregaon, is a part of the second phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-2). According to officials, nearly one lakh commuters will benefit from this service.

The newly extended harbour line section from Andheri and Goregaon will be inaugurated by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and minister of railways Piyush Goyal at Goregaon railway station.

“Along with the harbour extension, other services will also be inaugurated which includes various passenger amenities such as lifts at Borivali and Dadar,” said Ravindra Bhakar, chief spokesperson of WR.

Railways likely to announce 20,000 more jobs

Railways is expected to announce around 20,000 more jobs which will be in addition to 90,000 already advertised by the transporter, taking the total to around 1.10 lakh jobs.

The new vacancies include 11,000 posts for assistant loco pilots and technicians and 9,000 for sub-inspectors and constables in Railway Protection force (RPF) out of which around 50% will be reserved for women.

The advertisements for new vacancies is likely to come in May.

The state-run transporter has received over two crore applications for about 90,000 vacancies, with four days still remaining for the online registration to end.

The online exam will be held for about 90,000 posts in group C and group D and for 9,500 openings in the RPF.

For assistant loco pilots and technicians alone, over 50 lakh online applications have been received, an official said.

There are 26,502 loco pilot and technicians posts and 62,907 Group D posts, including gangmen, switchmen, trackmen, cabinmen, welder, helpers and porters, open for recruitment.

As the job market in private sector is shrinking and opposition is targeting Modi government over job-less growth, the decision to leverage railways’ role as an employment generator will provide the ruling dispensation a cushion before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The plan to fill vacancies in safety related category is also in sync with railway minister Piyush Goyal’s announcement to strengthen safety in train operations which was dented by a series of derailments.

The move to fill the vacancies at ground level by massive hiring coupled with trimming of railway board by half seems to be Goyal’s strategy to “right-size” the railways which is “top-heavy”.

“Over two crore candidates have applied for the posts and the number will rise further as deadline is ending on March 31,” said a railway official.

Given the magnitude and the sheer scale of the test that is being conducted, the candidates will be given a window to check their answers after the completion of the exams and after the results are declared to maintain transparency.

The last date to apply is this Saturday.

TRAIN OF THOUGHT

  • Indian Railways is one of the largest Railway network in the world under single management
  • IR has a network of more than 68,312 route km and 1,35,000 track km.
  • 12,600 trains carry 23 million passengers a day run on Indian Railways
  • Out of the 9,500 new recruits in RPF, 4,200 will be women. The over all vacancy as of today stands approx. 1,20,000
  • The share of women employees to increase from a mere 3.5% to 8.6%

Single Bid leads to Railways scrap ambitious Rs.2,700-crore Global Tender for Aluminium-bodied Trainsets

Railways has scrapped the global tender for its ambitious Rs 2,700-crore project to manufacture aluminium-bodied trainsets  after receiving just a single bid.

The new tender, when it is floated, is expected to be in sync with the Modi government’s public procurement order promoting the Make in India initiative, as suggested by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which had red-flagged the first tender. “The ambitious trainset project will be re-tendered with revised bidding conditions and an enhanced work order to enable wider participation from interested domestic players,” said a senior Railway Ministry official. A trainset is a set of coaches coupled mechanically and electrically with driving cabins at both ends and distributed traction power across the train. The acceleration and deceleration is faster in trainsets as compared to trains hauled by locomotives.

Earlier, the Railways’ Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) near Chennai had floated the global tender for the manufacture of 291 aluminium-bodied coaches. Though the pre-bid conference had attracted about seven global players, and the last date for bid submission was pushed from January 29 to February 6, only one consortium — Stradler-Medha, comprising Swiss train manufacturer Stradler and Indian rolling-stock maker Medha — actually bid for the project. The reason: Certain pre-bidding conditions, including one that stipulated that every bidder should have existing Make in India facilities, and another that insisted on five years experience of supplying to G8 countries. In a letter to Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani, the DIPP raised objections to the tender, observing that the bidding conditions were not in line with the government’s public procurement policy. It sought clarifications from the state-run transporter.

The DIPP letter came after Titagarh Wagons Ltd., one of the largest private sector railway wagon manufacturers in India, had written to the department drawing attention to the violation of the public procurement order which resulted in elimination of other players. Taking note of the complaint, DIPP, in its letter to the Railways, observed that the eligibility conditions set in the trainset tender “prima facie seem to be non-compliant to the Public Procurement (preference to make in India) order”. Formulated by the Finance Ministry, the policy aims to ensure that the tender conditions are strictly in sync with the public procurement order taking into account the interest of Indian manufacturers.

DIPP, in its letter, pointed out: “The stipulated requirement that the bidder should have prior experience in supplying to G8 countries in the last five years would most certainly go against the domestic manufactures and in favour of a restricted number of global players — there is no justification for taking supply to G8 countries as a condition.” The Railway Ministry took note of the DIPP observations and decided to go for a fresh tender.

The new tender will have revised bidding conditions and an enhanced work order, enabling wider participation by interested players, sources close to the development said. The work order is expected to increase up to 500 trainset coaches instead of just 291. Proposed to be manufactured at ICF, the ambitious project, known as Train-20, envisages rolling out 291 lightweight aluminium-bodied trainset coaches, a first in Indian Railways. The trainsets are equipped with improved passenger comforts, automatic door system and 160 km per hour maximum speed. They will have both seating and sleeper berths and are expected to run on Rajdhani routes.

Railway Board nod to partial air-conditioning in Mumbai Local Trains

The Railway Board on Tuesday approved partial air-conditioning of Mumbai’s suburban local trains. As many as 78 Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) trains will soon have six air-conditioned (AC) coaches – each trains has 12 compartments. In January, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) discussed a policy to partially air-condition suburban rakes in Mumbai. The proposal was later sent to the board.

The Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, will retrofit 39 rakes, including its own Medha rakes and Siemens and Bombardier rakes, converting these to completely air-conditioned ones. The Railways intends to use six coaches from the 39 to replace six compartments in each of the existing trains.

According to senior railway officials, they plan to replace the first six coaches behind the motorman’s cabin. “While we are yet to decide on the compartmentalisation of coaches, reserving the first six coaches as AC would be ideal. They would be vestibuled with CCTV cameras and automatic doors. With this, we expect an increase in the ridership,” a senior railway official said.

Currently, one AC train plies on the existing suburban railway system. With an average of only 6,000 daily commuters in the train, it sees poor occupancy, railway officials have said. Commuters have complained that the AC local’s frequency is poor. It makes only 12 trips daily.

“The MRVC is set to procure 210 AC trains in the coming three years. Partially air-conditioning the trains could be a stop-gap arrangement for the commuters,” an MRVC official added.

The cost of each AC coach is Rs 6.25 crore. Officials said they are yet to deliberate on the design and other technical details. “As the tender for non-AC Medha rakes had already been floated, we would make necessary revisions in the tender. We expect a batch of seven AC Medha rakes to be procured in six months,” a railway official said.