Indian Railways News

Indian Railways News

India Pvt. Ltd indicate that the Railways are gaining “preference” (over Roads) for Long Distances

Channel checks by Jefferies India Pvt. Ltd indicate that the railways are gaining preference over roads for long distances, a positive for CONCOR given its dominant market share in the container rail movement.

“Our industry and company interactions suggest that railways are gaining gradual preference over roads for long distances,” Jefferies said in a note.

The question that begs clarity, however, is how much of this volume recovery will translate into earnings. Being a transporter, CONCOR will gain most when it keeps costs in check and resources are put to optimum use. Here, there is a challenge. One is empty running, due to the imbalance in the exim trade (more imports than exports), as pointed out earlier in this column. This leads to cost under-recovery. The second factor is the lead distance.

The latest container freight traffic data led to noticeable gains in the shares of Container Corp. of India Ltd, aka CONCOR. Compared to a 0.1% rise in the BSE 500 index, the stock gained 5% over the past week as data from major ports and the Indian Railways showed continuing recovery in export-import (exim) container volumes.

The recovery augurs well for container train operators such as CONCOR.

According to Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd, lead distance for the rail segment has been declining due to the increasing proportion of volumes from Mundra/Pipavav ports, which have lower lead distance to the northern part of the country. “This, in turn, has been adversely affecting realizations, and thus, margins. Lead distance for exim rail transportation declined by 30km MoM (month-on-month) in February, which may impact margins in 4QFY18,” Motilal Oswal Securities said in a note.

That said, the above mentioned challenges are nothing new for CONCOR. The company is trying to mitigate the empty running costs through double stacking and circuit networks, where the train will travel further down the destination to pick up return cargo.

This, coinciding with the better volumes, helped CONCOR in the December quarter. Further, with volumes remaining strong, some analysts believe the leverage benefits to outweigh the challenges, driving earnings. “In 3Q, just between higher double stacking to 492 trains from 216 trains YoY and 11% YoY volume growth, CONCOR’s exim Ebit margins improved 120 bps YoY to 18.3% from 17.1%,” analysts at Jefferies add. “Double stacking benefits should also play out in 4QFY18E (the fourth quarter of 2017-18) for the company.”

The stock is reflecting this optimism, trading at about 24 times FY19 earnings estimates. For it to maintain the positive momentum, the company should continue extract the best of volume growth, the results of which will soon be known in its quarterly earnings.

Indian Railways records less than 100 Accidents in a year for the First Time in 35 Years

The Indian Railways has set a new safety record. For the first time in 35 years, the national transporter recorded less than 100 accidents in a year.

In the last financial year that ended 31 March, the railways recorded 73 accidents – 29 per cent fewer than the 104 in 2016-17.

While the number of derailments came down to 39 from 68 in 2016-17, accidents at unmanned level crossings have come down from 15 to just eight. The casualty figures, too, have come down significantly from 2016-17, when at least 150 people had died after the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Kanpur.

At least 1,503 unmanned level crossings and 484 manned level crossings were eliminated by the construction of over-bridges and under-bridges in 2016-17. The introduction of Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches to replace conventional ones has also reduced the chances of a derailment.

In the 2017-18 Budget, the government had set up the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh, a special safety fund with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore for financing safety-related works. Besides, the railways has speeded up the use of modern technology such as ultrasonic systems to detect defect on tracks.

In a related development, the Indian Railways has also set a new record by transporting over 1,160 million tonnes of freight in 2017-18.

MoEF rejects Railway stand on no FCA nod

The ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has rejected the argument of Indian Railways that it has power to acquire forest land falling in the right of way (ROW) and divert it for expansion of projects and that applicability of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 is not binding on the transport behemoth.

The latest MoEFCC direction comes in the wake of conversion of 176km meter gauge line between Akola-Khandwa to broad gauge. Of this, 39km line passes through Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) in Amravati district.

In the instant case, ministry of railways (MoR) had recently approached the MoEFCC contending that the meter gauge line passing through Melghat was constructed during 1955-59. The railways said it has power to acquire forest land under Section 11(a) of the Railway Act of 1989 and divert it for expansion as the said land falls in the ROW.

The MTR was among the first 9 tiger reserves notified in 1973. Recently National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in its report to the MoEFCC termed the project through the tiger reserve infeasible.

“We have been repeatedly clarifying that FCA and WPA will be applicable for diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes irrespective of the land ownership and forest land owned by the state cannot be acquired and transferred to the railways under Section 11(a) of the Railways Act without following the provisions of both the Acts,” said MoEFCC officials.

The MoEFCC also sought legal opinion from the Union ministry of law and justice on the applicability of the FCA on the use of land falling in the ROW for construction of new railway line. The law ministry in its reply opined, “Though railway administration has powers to construct or maintain the railways on any land, forest land falling in ROW attracts provisions of the FCA.”

The South Central Railway (SCR) has taken up gauge conversion work between Akola-Khandwa passing through the tiger reserve. The project will need additional 50.45 hectares reserve forest land, cost of which will be Rs4.05 crore. The total cost of the project from inside the MTR comes to Rs1,231.35 crore. NTCA has already reported that the project would spell doom for the tiger reserve.

On the contentious issue, the MoEFCC has written to all the states opining that railways has ROWs for construction and maintenance of railway lines for public welfare and may require land from the owners of the land but this right is also subject to other statutory provisions and regulations. “If forest land cannot be dispensed with for the railway track in view of conservation of forest and wildlife, then railways cannot acquire said land under the Railway Act without prior approval under the FCA. The state government(s) also cannot allot forest land, which is not the property of the railways,” says the MoEFCC.

The MoEFCC has told the states that railway projects passing through sanctuaries, tiger reserves and national parks amount to destruction of habitat under the WPA and hence such projects require approval from the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). This is in pursuance of Supreme Court order issued on May 9, 2002.

Piyush Goyal publishes 208-page Book at his own expense to educate Employees whose children were to appear for Exams

Weeks before they were to appear for their exams, children of around 3,000 employees of railway and coal ministries in Delhi received a personalised letter from Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, along with a copy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s book ‘Exam Warriors’, asking them to take lessons from it, sources have revealed.

The railway ministry sources said Goyal bought the copies of the 208-page book himself and sought details of the employees whose children were to appear for exams in coming months. He sent out around 3,100 copies to the employees, including railway and coal ministry PSUs, the sources said.

They said Goyal bore the expenses for the books. In the letters addressed to the employees and their children by name, Goyal said “in recent times, the competitive nature of exams is causing more stress than satisfaction, and is taking its toll” and recommended the prime minister’s book as a ready reckoner on how to deal with it.

“In his unique style, Prime Minister Modi has simplified complex issues into 25 simple mantras. The book helps students gain self-confidence and teaches them how to focus on the task at hand. It also guides parents on helping children discover their true potential… Prime Minister Modi speaks about honesty, forming bonds with our teachers, handling adverse situations to see them as opportunities and making a contribution to society,” he said.

Recently, Goyal had met a girl who had run away from her home because she failed in an exam, but was rescued at a railway station. He gifted her the book and spent time talking to her. “I am delighted to present this book to you as a personal souvenir for reading and encourage you to take out time for assimilating its lessons.

I am confident that this will help everyone succeed not just in exams, but also in life. Wish you all the best, for your exams, and to quote Prime Minister Modi, ‘let us be warriors, not worriers’,” he said in the letters

Highest-ever Freight Load of 1,160 MT transported in 2017-2018: Railways

The Indian Railways transported over 1,160 million tonnes of freight in 2017-18 which is the highest-ever for the national transporter, ministry officials said today.

In the last five years, there has been a steady growth in freight loading by the railways.

While in 2016-2017, the total freight loading was 1,109 million tonnes, in the previous year it was 1,104 million tonnes, the officials said.

They said in 2014-2015, the number stood at 1,095 million tonnes while in 2013-2014 the railways’ freight loading was 1,051 million tonnes.

Freight traffic is the major source of revenue for the railways. Only one-third of the 13,000 trains running daily on the national transporter’s network are freight trains, but it accounts for 65 per cent of the railways’ total revenue.

Raw materials from producing centres to factories and finished/semi-finished products from factories to markets or ports for export are carried by the railways as freight.

MOSR के द्वारा चिरईडोंगरी से नैनपुर तथा बालाघाट से समनापुर तक नवपरिवर्तित बड़ी लाईन का लोकार्पण तथा यात्री रेल सेवा का शुभारंभ

श्री मनोज सिन्हा , माननीय केन्द्रीय रेल राज्य मंत्री एवं संचार राज्य मंत्री (स्वतंत्र प्रभार) के द्वारा दक्षिण पूर्व मध्य रेलवे , नागपुर मण्डल के अंतर्गत बालाघाट स्टेशन से दिनांक 01-04-2018 को शाम 15.30 बजे नैनपुर- मंडला आमान परिवर्तन के अंतर्गत चिरईडोंगरी स्टेशन से नैनपुर रेलवे स्‍टेशन तक नवपरिवर्तित बड़ी लाईन का लोकार्पण तथा इस खंड पर यात्री रेल सेवा का शुभारंभ करते हुये एक दिवसीय विशेष गाड़ी क्र 05174 चिरईडोंगरी से नैनपुर स्पेशल को बालाघाट से वीडियो कोन्फ़्रेंसिंग के माध्यम से हरी झंडी दिखाकर रवाना किया। इस अवसर चिरईडोंगरी में श्री फग्‍गन सिंह कुलस्‍ते, माननीय सांसद, मंडला, श्रीमती सम्पतिया उइके, माननीया सांसद राज्यसभा, माननीय विधायक श्री संजीव छोटेलाल उइके व मंडल तथा मुख्यालय के अधिकारीगण  सहित गणमान्य नागरिक, जनसमुदाय व यूनियन के पदाधिकारी उपस्थिति थे।

इस के अलावा मंत्री महोदय ने जबलपुर- गोंदिया आमान परिवर्तन के अंतर्गत बालाघाट स्‍टेशन से समनापुर स्‍टेशन तक नवपरिवर्तित बड़ी लाईन का लोकार्पण कर   इस खंड पर भी एक दिवसीय विशेष गाड़ी क्र 05819 बालाघाट-समनापुर स्पेशल को हरी झंडी दिखाकर रवाना किया। एक दिवसीय विशेष गाड़ी क्र 05174 चिरईडोंगरी से नैनपुर स्पेशल चिरईडोंगरी से 16.30 बजे तथा गाड़ी क्र 05819 बालाघाट-समनापुर स्पेशल बालाघाट से 16-40 बजे रवाना हुई ।

इस अवसर पर श्री गौरी शंकर बिसेन, माननीय किसान कल्याण एवं कृषि विकास मंत्री, श्री बोध सिंह भगत , माननीय सांसद-बालाघाट, श्री प्रहलाद सिंह पटेल , माननीय सांसद-दमोह, माननीय विधायक श्री के.डी देशमुख तथा श्री सुनील सिंह सोइन, महाप्रबंधक, दक्षिण पूर्व मध्य रेलवे सहित श्री अमित कुमार अग्रवाल, मण्डल रेल प्रबंधक, श्री हिमांशू जैन, सचिव, दक्षिण पूर्व मध्य रेलवे, डॉ प्रकाश चंद्र त्रिपाठी, उप महाप्रबंधक (जी) व मुख्य जनसम्पर्क अधिकारी तथा मुख्यालय के अन्य उच्चाधिकारीगण तथा मण्डल के अधिकारीगण सहित गणमान्य नागरिक, जनसमुदाय व यूनियन के पदाधिकारी उपस्थिति थे।

लोकार्पण एवं शुभारंभ समारोह के दौरान माननीय रेल राज्य मंत्री श्री मनोज सिन्हा ने अपने संबोधन में सर्वप्रथम इस रेलकार्मियो कि तुलना सेना के जवानो से करते हुये कहा कि जिस तऱ्ह सेना के जवान दिन-रात देश कि सेवा करते है ठीक उसी तऱ्ह से भारतीय रेल के कर्मचारी भी लोगो को एक स्थान से दुसरे स्थान तक पहुचाने के लिये दिन रात काम करते है. उन्होने इस परियोजना के कार्य में लागे अधिकारियो, कर्मचारियो को बधाई देते हुये कहा कि उनकी मेहनत के बदौलत ही इस परियोजना को चरणबद्ध तरीके से तीव्र गति से पुरा किया जा रहा है. उन्होने आगे कहा कि इस परियोजना के पुरा होने से इस क्षेत्र के निवसियो कि आर्थिक एवं सामाजिक स्थिती में क्रांतिकारी बदलाव आयेगा .

चिरईडोंगरी से नैनपुर तथा बालाघाट से समनापुर तक दिनांक 02-04-2018 से नियमित रूप रेल सेवा प्रारम्भ की रही है, जिसकी समय सारणी निम्न होगी। (इन खंडो पर रेल परिचालन 02-04-2018 से लागू होगी)

जबलपुर-गोंदिया एवं नैनपुर-मंडलाफ़ोर्ट गेज परिवर्तन परियोजना के अंतर्गत गेज परिवर्तन का कार्य तीव्र गति से एवं चरणबद्ध तरीके से किया जा रहा है । अलग-अलग खंडो के गेज परिवर्तन कार्य पूर्ण होने के पश्चात इन पर रेल परिवहन की शुरुआत भी किया जा रहा है । जबलपुर से नैनपुर तक का गेज परिवर्तन कार्य पूरा कर इस पर रेल सेवा शुरू किया जा चुका है ।  बालाघाट-समनापुर एवं नैनपुर-चिरईडोंगरी के मध्य लोकार्पण किए जा रहे इन नवपरिवर्तित लाइनों के पश्चात जबलपुर-गोंदिया गेज परिवर्तन के अंतर्गत नैनपुर से समनापुर के मध्य 60 किलोमीटर एवं नैनपुर-मंडलाफ़ोर्ट गेज परिवर्तन परियोजना के अंतर्गत चिरईडोंगरी से मंडलाफ़ोर्ट के मध्य 24 किलोमीटर का निर्माणाधीन कार्य शेष है, जिसे तीव्र गति से पुरा किया जा रहा है । इन कार्यो के पूरा होने से उत्तर-दक्षिण दिशा और पूरब और पश्चिम दिशाओं के लिए भी रेलवे के नये वैकल्पिक रास्ते निकल पाएंगे जिससे कि, आवागमन समय में लगभग 5 से 6 घंटे की समय की बचत होगी। साथ ही साथ भारतीय रेलवे की बड़ी लाईन के वृहद रेल नेटवर्क से जुड़कर इस क्षेत्र के आर्थिक एवं सामाजिक विकास को भी गति मिलेगी।

Rating on Cleanliness in Trains & Stations by Passengers will now have direct impact on payment to Contractors’

Indian Railways has just taken the next step to make sure your next trip to railway stations and on trains is one that brings you nothing but joy! Passengers will now rate cleanliness standards in trains and stations which will directly impact payment of contractors with low scores, Railways have said in a new contract drawn up for such services.

According to the contract, 30 per cent of a contractor’s monthly penalties and incentives will depend on an overall score from passengers regarding cleanliness levels being maintained by them, while the rest will be based on attendance of cleanliness staff, use and quality of consumables, linen distribution, maintenance and services, which will be monitored by Indian Railways staff.

The new rules say while the attendance record of janitors which has to be submitted to the Railways supervisor every month will carry 25 per cent weightage, cleanliness record will carry 15 per cent weightage, use of type and quantity of consumables, linen distribution, minor maintenance and result of surprise visits by officials carry 10 per cent weight each, passenger feedback and complaints carry the maximum weightage of 30 per cent.

“The score from each section will be compiled and weighed…Using the same the final score will be computed for the contractor every month…Based on this score, every month the contractor’s penalty and incentive can be found…,” the railways has said.

Officials said that since the standards of cleanliness directly affect passenger onboard experience, it was imperative to include them in the process.

“Also, when passengers themselves are monitoring the cleanliness levels, we will get a true picture of the situation on board,” said a senior official of the ministry.

The feedback of Indian Railways passengers will be recorded on a GPS based system leaving no room for error, officials said.

Cleanliness has in fact been a major source of grievance of passengers and the highest number of such complaints are received from passengers regarding the same.

“If our feedback directly affects those who are in charge of the services, then they will be forced to perform to ensure they get good scores. The standards will definitely get better,” said Santosh Sinha, who travels frequently between Delhi and Patna, his hometown.

On-Board Housekeeping Staff (OBHS) entrusted with the job maintaining cleanliness in Indian Railways trains are mostly on contract and the service is now available on more than 1,700 trains. The service includes scheduled cleaning of coaches twice a day, and cleaning at any time when a passenger sends in a request.

Prime Minister puts brakes on Railways’ full-electrification plan

A high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is learnt to have suggested to the Indian Railways to not rush through unilaterally with its grand drive of 100 per cent electrification of the country’s railway network. The Prime Minister is learnt to have nudged the policy correction while reviewing the work of the Railway Ministry at the PMO last Monday in the presence of the full Railway Board led by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.

Modi is learnt to have raised questions on the 100 per cent electrification policy — pursued aggressively by Goyal since his arrival in Rail Bhawan in September last year — wondering what the need/ justification for it was, especially because massive working infrastructure is already in place for diesel, the other mode of traction.

The PM was of the view that premature idling of in-service rolling-stock assets from the diesel stable was not a good idea, sources told The Indian Express. The Indian Railways have around 5,800 working diesel locomotives.

“Electrification is a long-term process. Its timeframe has to depend on the Budget,” said a source who is aware of the deliberations. “These things do not happen immediately. The diesel stock that we have has a certain life, and it (the changeover) will take time,” the source said.

One major takeaway for the Railway Board from the meeting was that the “100 per cent electrification” policy was to be put on hold, without missing the yearly physical targets for electrification as and when decided every year on a need basis, sources said.

The message that Railways got from the meeting was that the PM was more interested in the national transporter achieving its yearly budgetary expenditure targets towards electrification and other capital spends.

“The electrification plan should be annual target-based. Budget allocation-based annual commitments for electrification should be taken up,” another top source said, summarising the upshot of the review meeting.

The Railways have already announced plans to electrify their entire network by 2021-22. “Ministry of Railways has decided to electrify balance 38,000 Broad Gauge (BG) Route Kilometer (RKM) for achieving 100% electrification,” Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said in a reply to an unstarred question in Lok Sabha, setting 2021-22 as the timeframe to achieved it.

Lok Sabha was informed of ambitious annual targets of upwards of 4,000 km to meet this deadline. In the 2017-18 financial year, however, only around 2,500 km was achieved until the end of February, far short of the 4,000-km route electrification target.

There have been calls from within the government for a “strategic rethink”, for both financial and operational reasons, of the 100 per cent electrification policy. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not use the phrase “100 per cent electrification” in the Budget, and instead referred to “optimal electrification”.

“We are moving fast towards optimal electrification of railway network. 4,000 kilometres are targeted for commissioning during 2017-18,” Jaitley said in his Budget speech.

The Railways have thus far deployed a staggered approach towards the electrification of tracks. Over the years, they have electrified high-traffic routes based on the projected rate of return on the heavy capital investment that is involved. They have not identified for electrification routes with sub-optimal traffic — and the projected return on investment is not favourable for a majority of the 38,000 route kilometres that remain to be electrified.

Sources said the decision to electrify 100 per cent of the network was taken without adequate multi-disciplinary high-level consultations last year. The push for electrification triggered alarm bells in the US multinational General Electric last year after Goyal instructed the Railway Board to explore the option of exiting the diesel locomotive project in Marhowra (Bihar). GE had signed an agreement with the government in 2015 to build the modern diesel locomotive factory in a joint venture with the Railways to supply 1,000 high horsepower diesel engines exclusively to the Indian Railways over 10 years. The Railways subsequently backed off to allay GE’s apprehensions.

Aiming to infuse Transparency and ensure Accountability in its functioning, Railways in the process of launching 200 Apps

Aiming to infuse transparency and ensure accountability in its functioning, railways is developing more than 200 apps for travellers, stakeholders and also for internal use of employees.

People will also be able to track the progress being made in areas such as construction of foot-overbridges, installation of escalators at stations, status of construction of underpasses or underbridges and installation of Wi-Fi service at stations through these apps being developed by the state-run transporter.

Travellers can also get information about status of station redevelopment, information about catering stalls, their locations and even planning & progress in removal of unmanned level-crossings through the use of these apps.

The transporter is likely to launch three key apps in coming days.

Passengers will be able to file complaints relating to their travel and facilities at stations on “Rail MADAD” app for faster redressal. The app, which is almost ready, has integrated all passenger grievances and redressal mechanisms in railways.

“Menu on Rails” app will display IRCTC menu with rates for food items available at stations and in different types of trains such as mail/express trains or elite Shatabdi/Rajdhani trains.

As freight is its profitmaking business, railways is ready to launch “IR SUGAM” app which will provide all the information related to freight business to customers.

The apps which will be useful for stakeholders, include those which provide information on pending issues of Zonal Railways with railway board, information on tenders of goods, works and services and details and updates about MoUs signed with zonal railways and production units.

Railways minister Piyush Goyal said the new railway apps will reshape service, delivery and complaint redressal mechanism in almost every sphere. “People will be informed about the services to be provided by the railways with the help of these apps. This will enforce accountability,” said an official.

Other apps on offer which may be of interest to people are about railway tourist information and information about national rail museum. For employees, the apps are being developed for getting information about salary, leave details etc and grievance redressal. An app for booking of officer’s guesthouses and dashboard app for monitoring of tasks such as for colony maintenance are also being developed by railway zones, PSUs and production units.

Madurai Division gears up for Punalur-Sengottai Broad Gauge Railway line inauguration in April

The much awaited Punalur-Sengottai rail route will be commissioned on Saturday. The first train along the route will start from Thambaram in Tamil Nadu to reach Kollam railway station on Saturday.

The official inauguration of the route will be held in April. “The first train will start by 5.30 pm on Friday from Thambaram to reach Sengottai by 6 am on Saturday. The train will further take the new route to reach Kollam by 10.30 am. The train will be given receptions at various stations including Sengottai on Saturday,” said N.K. Premachandran MP.

In the first phase, six passengers trains are likely to operate along the route bridging the two states, operating from Madurai, Sengottai, Kollam, And Tirunelveli. 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 in 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 Western Ghats along 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 Sengottai, commissioned in 1903.

The bridge having 102.72 metres in length and 5.18 metres in height was constructed using the ancient Surki method by the British. It is now strengthened using concrete jacketing and the heritage look will be artificially created by fixing the walls with tiles resembling the old construction blocks. The meter-gauge rail service along the Punalur -Sengottai stretch was stopped since September 2010.

The Punalur-Sengottai section is part of the 325-km Kollam-Sengottai-Tenkasi-Tirunelveli- Thiruchendur gauge conversion project carried out by the construction wing of the Indian Railways. The rail route along Sengottai-Thiruchendur and Kollam-Punalur sections have already been opened for rail traffic.