Indian Railways News

Illegal Software To Trick Tatkal Booking Under CBI Scanner

The CBI is investigating whether travel agents are using illegal software to trick the railway tatkal booking system into issuing tickets at a fast rate by evading the railways’ own security checks, people familiar with the matter said today.

The Central Bureau of Investigation earlier this week arrested Ajay Garg, a programmer who worked with the probe agency, for allegedly developing and distributing a tatkal-cheating software to travel agents for a price, CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal had said. Another software professional, Anil Gupta, was also arrested.

The CBI suspects that similar illegal software as the one developed by Mr Garg could be in circulation among travel agents, and some of these illegal software could be bought from the online ‘market’ easily, news agency Press Trust of India reported.

The software tinkers with the railway ticketing system by speeding up the booking process and allowing multiple tickets to be bought, people familiar with the matter said. They said the software called “Neo” developed by the arrested programmer is one of the many tools available online for a price.

“All such software are under scanner. We are examining them and may soon take action, if any illegality is found in their operations,” a CBI officer said.

The software creates an auto-fill system where details of a large number of ticket-seekers are entered and kept ready even before tatkal bookings open on the ticketing authority IRCTC’s website at 10 am for trains departing the next day, PTI reported.

The illegal software then speed up the PNR-generating process, bypassing the IRCTC’s captcha guard — a feature to avoid spam — and allowing login with multiple identities. A single click of the mouse will then book multiple tickets simultaneously.

Users of the software can also enter computer networks illegally, investigators said.

“Use of such software is illegal as per rules and regulations of the IRCTC and also under the Railways Act. It was also alleged that the accused was collecting money for the use of such software by certain booking agents and had amassed huge wealth from these activities,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.

Ticket bookings under tatkal quota open at 10 am for air-conditioned coaches and 11 am for non-air-conditioned coaches for trains departing the next day. Under the quota, a fixed number of seats in each coach are sold at a premium by the railways to travellers who need tickets urgently.

A common complaint of passengers is that by the time they enter details on the IRCTC website or complete the booking process, seats under the tatkal quota gets full within minutes of the start of booking.

Some travel agents offer to provide confirmed tickets under the quota by charging a premium over and above the railways prices, people familiar with the matter said.

The arrest of Mr Garg and Mr Gupta has exposed the alleged software used by them to exploit any vulnerability of IRCTC’s ticket-booking system, investigators said.

Mr Garg, 35, joined the CBI in 2012. He had been working at IRCTC from 2007 to 2011.

Myth Of Bengal’s “Haunted” Station Busted After 50 Years

A group of rationalists spent a winter night in the small obscure railway station in West Bengal’s Purulia district, which had been recorded as ‘haunted’ by the railways, to bust the myth.

The group found a few locals trying to scare them away from the station on Thursday night instead of any paranormal presence, a member of the rationalist group said.

Begunkodor station, located near the Ayodhya Hills and 50 km from Purulia town, had earned the distinction of being a ‘ghost station’ after 1967, the year its station master had reportedly died after seeing a white sari clad woman walking along the tracks in the night.

The incident had caused passengers to desert the station and it had come to be known as ‘haunted’ in the railways records.

Begunkodor had been closed since then and was listed by railways as one of its 10 ‘haunted’ stations in India.

The station was reopened 42 long years later in 2009 by Mamata Banerjee during her tenure as the railways minister.

Since then trains stopped at this obscure station and passengers used it only till 5 pm scared of encounters with the ghosts.

A nine-member team of the rationalist organisation Paschim Banga Bigyan Manch, armed with torches, digital compasses and cameras, had camped at this station with police protection on Thursday night and busted the decades-old myth.

Nayan Mukherjee, who led the team said, “We were at the Begunkodor station in Purulia district from 11 PM on Thursday night till the early morning hours the next day but there was no nocturnal activity.”

He said the team did not see the ghost of a woman who is said to have committed suicide years ago or the apparition of the station master, who reportedly haunt the station. “We could only spot a snake in an adjacent well,” Mr Mukherjee said.

The team had heard a peculiar noise from the darkness behind the station building deep in the night, he said. “When we focused the torch light on the surrounding bush at around 2 AM we saw four to five people, who appeared to be locals fleeing from the spot. We chased them for a while but they ran away.”

The station was being touted by certain people for some time as a ‘ghost tourism’ spot to attract visitors. Some of the locals apparently scare them away with the noise and steal their belongings after they flee out of fear, he said.

The digital compasses and cameras installed in the station compound by the team did not pick up any sign of paranormal activity, Mr Mukherjee said.

The Superintendent of Police of Purulia district Joy Biswas said the team had asked for police protection which was given to them.

He said the police and the administration were aware that Begunkodor station was known as a ‘ghost station’ among the locals and had started night patrolling in the area recently. Efforts were also made to create awareness among the people over the public address systems.

“I have asked the the superintendent of police to take necessary steps in the matter,” Purulia District Magistrate Aloke Prasad Roy said.

Railway Electrification thrust by IR, an opportunity for EPC Firms

The Indian Railways’ target to electrify all its broad gauge tracks by fiscal year 2022 can open up large opportunities for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies. The national carrier has prepared an action plan to electrify 38,000 route-kilometres in five years, incurring an expenditure of Rs.32,591 crore.

According to Elara Securities (India) Pvt. Ltd, the target represents a significant jump from an earlier plan. “The action plan’s target is 56% higher than an earlier plan of electrifying 90% of the network, or 24,400 route kilometres over FY17-21 announced in November 2016,” Elara Securities wrote in a note.

Importantly, the national transporter has plans to award individual tenders as large as 1,500km. The move would not only lower electrification costs due to better economies of scale but also make the tenders more appealing for large companies. Indian Railways has hitherto been awarding tenders for smaller lengths, making it a time-consuming process, according to a report.

Nevertheless, given the Indian Railways’ focus on capital expenditure and capacity augmentation, award of contracts is already on an upswing. Elara’s analysis of contract awards shows a sharp rise in the awarding of electrification projects in the first eight months of this fiscal.

If the Railways steps up the pace to achieve its renewed target, then capital goods and EPC services providers can see accelerated order inflows. “We believe EPC firms like Larsen and Toubro, KEC International, Kalpataru Power and T&D firms like CG (Crompton Greaves) Power, Siemens India and ABB India would be key beneficiaries,” Elara Securities said in a note. “We revise our EPS estimates on higher order inflows and pick-up in execution for ABB, CG Power, KEC International and Siemens.”

T&D is transmission and distribution, and EPS is earnings per share. Higher order flows will come as a welcome relief for capital goods and EPC companies that have been weighed down by weak trends in private sector capital expenditure. Stiff competition for these contracts does pose a risk, however.

The enlargement of contracts can raise competition, putting pressure on margins—akin to that being seen in the EPC business for the solar power sector. According to Elara Securities, Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE), an arm of the railways that carries out electrification works, has sounded out empanelled vendors of government power utilities.

“This would be beneficial for Indian Railways in accelerating execution of electrification projects and foster competition by enhancing the vendor base,” Elara Securities adds. While the measures could indeed expand the vendor base of Indian Railways, it is only when the orders are eventually awarded that investors will know if the contracts are lucrative enough.

China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan to mull Railway Construction

Tashkent will host a tripartite meeting on the construction of the China – Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan (CKU) railway on December 27, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry reported.

The Chinese delegation is headed by Deputy General Director of the Department of the State Committee for Development and Reforms Zheng Chipping, Kyrgyzstan is led by Minister of Transport Jamshitbek Kalilov and Uzbekistan — First Deputy Chairman of the Uzbekistan Airways Akbar Shukurov.

The working groups of representatives of three countries are preparing materials of the forthcoming meeting from December 25, 2017.

This line is an ambitious project as it will be a boost for Kyrgyzstan’s and Uzbekistan’s trade with China. Though only some 450 to 500 kilometers long, the route must travel through the mountains of western China and Kyrgyzstan, sometimes at altitudes of 2,000 to 3,500 meters, and requires construction of nearly 50 tunnels and more than 90 bridges.

The line would start in Kashgar, in China’s western Xinjiang Autonomous Uyghur Region, and run through Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan’s eastern town of Pap, in Uzbekistan’s section of the Ferghana Valley.

According to the preliminary estimates, the reduction of the route from East Asia to the countries of the Middle East and Southern Europe will be about 900 kilometers, and the terms will decrease by 7-8 days.

In addition, the construction will ensure the development of the transport infrastructure of the Central Asian countries, provide them with convenient access to the ports of the Persian Gulf and the Pacific, and will stimulate the development and use of natural resources of the regional countries.

SCR runs 16 Special Trains between Secunderabad and Guwahati via Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar

In order to clear extra rush of passengers, south Central Railway will run 16 Special Trains between Secunderabad and Guwahati as detailed below:-

Accordingly, Train No. 07149 Secunderabad – Guwahati Special train will depart Secunderabad at 07:30 hrs on 5th, 12th, 19th & 26thJanuary, 2nd, 9th, 16th & 23rd February,2018 (Friday) and arrive Guwahati at 08:45 hrs on Sunday.

In the return direction, Train No. 07150 Guwahati – Secunderabad Special train will depart Guwahti at 05:25 hrs on 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th January, 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th February, 2018 (Monday) and arrive Secunderabad at 09:15 hrs on Wednesday.

Enroute these special trains stop at Nalgonda, Miryalaguda, Piduguralla, Sattenapalle, Guntur, Vijayawada, Eluru, Rajamundhry, Samalkot, Anakapalli, Vishakapatnam, Vizianagaram, Berhampur, Khurda Road, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Bhadrakh, Balasore, Kharagpur, Andul, Barddhaman, Rampurhat, Malda Town, Barsoi, Kishanganj, New Jalpaiguri, Jalpaiguri Road, Maynaguri Road, Mathabanga, New Coochbehar, New Alipurdar, Kokrajhar, New Bongaigaon, Goalpara Town and  Kamakhya in both the directions.

These trains will comprise of AC II Tier, AC III Tier, Sleeper Class and Luggage cum Brakevan Coaches.

Additional Stoppage to KSR Bengaluru-H.Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express at Gwalior Railway Station

With the view to facilitate the passengers, additional stoppage for 2 minutes is provided for Train No. 22691/22692 KSR Bengaluru-H.Nizamuddin-Bengaluru Rajdhani Express at Gwalior Railway Station on experimental basis for six months as detailed below:-

  • Train No. 22691 KSR Bengaluru-H.Nizamuddin Rajdhani Expreswill arrive / depart Gwalior station at 01:55/01:57 hrs with effect from 23rd December, 2017.
  • Train No. 22692 H.Nizamuddin-KSR Bengaluru Rajdhani Express will arrive / depart Gwalior station at 00:02/00:04 hrs with effect from 24th December, 2017.

CR to start Queues for Women at Thane, Dombivali, Kalyan Stations; WR also decided to expand the practice

Following the example of the Western Railways, which launched a queue system for women passengers to board trains originating at Andheri suburban station, the Central Railways has also decided to restart the system at Thane, Dombivali and Kalyan stations from the first week of 2018.

A queue system is already in practice at Badlapur for originating local trains during the morning rush hours. Now we have decided to restart this system at Thane, Dombivali and Kalyan stations from the first week of the new year, for originating trains during rush hours,” a CR officer told Mirror. “As of now, 35 locals originate from Badlapur, 102 from Kalyan, 32 from Dombivali and 79 from Thane during rush hours. We are going to cover all these trains.”

“Crowd control by way of queuing while boarding trains was mooted on trial basis some months ago by CR General Manager DK Sharma as a public security practice to prevent stampedes. This has now been introduced at Thane, Dombivali and Kalyan for the benefit of our female commuters,” said CR CPRO Sunil Udasi.

“WR has also decided to expand the practice idea to include Borivali, Bandra and Bhayandar stations from January 1. Lady home guards will be exclusively utilised for the formation of queues in front of ladies’ coaches at Andheri station. Based on the success at Andheri, this system will also be replicated at other important stations, like Borivali, Bandra and Bhayandar,” said AK Singh, chief security commissioner, WR.

In July 2016 , after this newspaper had reported that commuters at Bhayandar had begun forming orderly queues to board trains, CR started forming queues at several stations, including CSMT, Thane, Dombivali, Kalyan and Badlapur, but due to a lack of security personnel, this idea was dropped at CSMT, Thane , Dombivali and Kalyan. But queue formation for originating trains during rush hours continues at Badlapur.

“Looking at the number of people dying due to train accidents, especially during rush hours, when locals run at peak capacity, the idea may prove a boon. To ensure that commuters follow the new rule and queue up instead of rushing into trains, we are going to deploy security personnel at these stations,” said Sachin Bhalode, divisional security commissioner, CR Mumbai division.

Commuter Leena Bhandarkar from Dombivali, who works with a private firm in Fort, welcomed the CR move. “A good initiative. Slowly but surely, change is happening for the better. Queuing up should become a habit for one’s own safety and smoother travel,” she said.

“This will work in Mumbai, even though some hiccups may persist. Mumbaikars are the only ones in the country who follow rules, stand in queues and are highly disciplined. I wish this succeeds, and it will,” said another commuter, Thane resident Madhuri Shinde.

Female home guards to manage crowds now

To avoid a repeat of the Elphinstone Road stampede that claimed 23 lives, WR has roped in personnel from the Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) and woman Home Guards for crowd management at suburban stations ,on the recommendation of a high-level inquiry committee that probed the tragedy. A total of 232 MSSC personnel and 97 woman Home Guards were on Thursday inducted into WR’s Mumbai Central Division for crowd management, a senior official said. “The MSSC has given their 232 personnel for the job. Besides these, we have inducted 97 Woman Home Guards,” WR General Manager AK Gupta said.

Women ask for barricades in AC train to mark ladies coach

The two women’s coaches of the newly introduced air-conditioned suburban train are likely to see barricades similar to the ones in Metro trains. Western Railways (WR) general manager A.K. Gupta said that a high number of feedback comments received from commuters are regarding the barricades. Currently, thanks to the train being a vestibule, anyone can enter the 1st and 12th coach earmarked for women.

Mr Gupta revealed that most of the feedback from women has been that they are afraid that the public will not stick to the rules or will not realise that the coaches are earmarked for women as despite being earmarked, the fact that they are designed as vestibule (as seen in long distance trains), allowing anyone to walk into these coaches.

These barricades will be similar to the ones seen at airport check counters and though it is a temporary solution, Mr Gupta said that that the next AC train might have a sturdier option.

He said, “This train is a prototype and we might ask that a partition be made in the AC trains that come to us next.”

There has also been a demand by the commuters to allow non-AC first class ticket and pass holders to be allowed to sit in the train as the train is not seeing as much as crowd as was expected, Mr Gupta said, “That will be decided by the railway ministry but there is no such plan as of now, we also have six months to send all these suggestions to the ministry and the railway board.”

Currently the season ticket of an AC train is double than that of first class and a single ticket is 1.2 times that of a first class ticket.

Winter Chill continues in North India, several trains cancelled, rescheduled due to dense fog

A large part  of North India continues to remain under the grip of cold wave, which affected the normal life and led to the cancellation of several trains and delayed flight operations on Thursday.

According to MeT Department, Kargil shivered at minus 9.6 degree Celsius, while dense fog led to the cancellation of over a dozen trains in the region today.

North-western plains, including Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and West Uttar Pradesh, were covered under dense fog this morning.

The fog played spoilsport for the railways in north India.

A Northern Railway spokesperson said besides 19 trains being cancelled, 26 arrived late in Delhi, while seven others had to be re-scheduled.

In Delhi, the minimum temperature settled at 7C.

“The maximum and minimum temperatures are expected to hover at 23 and 7 degrees respectively,” the weatherman said.

In the Kashmir Divison, including the Ladakh region, the night temperature again dipped and stayed below the freezing point at all stations, a MET department official in Srinagar said.

Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’,  a 40-day harshest period of winter when the possibility of snowfall is maximum and the temperature drops considerably.

Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a minimum temperature of minus 2.7C last night, a decrease of over three degrees from the 0.7C the previous night.

The official said the mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 1.6C, over a degree down from the minus 0.4C the previous night.

In the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir, the temperature settled at a low of minus 4C,  nearly two degrees colder than the previous night’s minus 2.4C.

In Kargil, in the Ladakh region, the night temperature dipped nearly six degrees last night as the mercury settled at a low of minus 9.6C from the minus 3.7C the previous night, he said. Kargil was the coldest place in Jammu and Kashmir.

The nearby Leh town recorded a low of minus 7.1C.

In Punjab, Adampur was the coldest place today with a minimum of 3.8C.

Cold has maintained its grip over the neighbouring Haryana too, where Narnaul was the coldest place at 4.7C.

Fog enveloped many areas in Punjab and Haryana. However, the sky was clear in Chandigarh.

Rajasthan too reeled under intense cold conditions today with Sikar recording a minimum temperature of 3.5C. Alwar recorded a minimum of 4.2C, the MeT department in Jaipur said.

Sri Ganganagar, Chittorgarh, Churu and Pilani recorded night temperatures of 6.1, 6.2, 6.6 and 7.3 degrees Celsius respectively, it said.
The weather is expected to remain the same during the next 24 hours in Rajasthan, it said.

Dense to very dense fog occurred at several places in Uttar Pradesh. Muzaffarnagar recorded the lowest temperature in the state at 4.6C. “Weather is likely to remain dry in the state in the next 24 hours,” the Met office in Lucknow said.

In southern India, the weather was not too different.

The hilly Nilgiris district continued to remain in the grip of cold with a village on the outskirts of the popular tourist town Udhagamandalam recording sub-zero temperature for the second time in a week.

The temperature dipped to minus 5C at Sandinala, about 10 km from Ooty, as Udhagamandalam is popularly known, an official said.

The area recorded minus 3C on December 24 with the sub-zero temperature occurring in the region after a gap of three years.

The Met office in Chennai yesterday issued a frost warning, saying ground frost was likely to occur at a few places over hill ranges of Nilgiris district over the next two nights.

Railway Coaches With Anti-Collision Device To Be Built From 2018: Piyush Goyal

nly those railway coaches which have in-built anti-collision devices will be produced in the country from June 2018, the government said today.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also told the Rajya Sabha that a policy decision to fill up 50 per cent of the total vacancies of 1.2 to 1.3 lakh in the railways, assessed as per the sanctioned strength, and has been taken.

This process will take another 6-9 months, he said during Question Hour.

“There are a total of 1.2 to 1.3 lakh vacancies assessed as per sanctioned strength of Railways. New technology is being used to monitor tracks and as an interim measure. We have decided to fill up 50 per cent of such vacancies.

Normally it takes over a year to complete the process, but we will speed up the process and the vacancies will be filled up between six to nine months,” Mr Goyal said.

He also said the Railways has taken a policy decision to remove all unmanned level crossings on heavily congested routes from Ganesh Chaturthi of 2018, slated in September.

He said the railways has two kinds of coaches – the Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) and Integral Coach Factory (ICF), that are produced in the country.

 The LHB coaches have in-built anti-collision devices which cause less fatalities, while more fatalities have been recorded in the ICF coaches, the minister said.

“As a policy decision, after June 2018 we will not produce any more ICF coaches and only LHB coaches will henceforth be produced,” he told the members.

The LHB coaches are manufactured by the Rail Coach Factory (Kapurthala) under a Transfer of Technology agreement, while the “Integral Coach Factory” are produced in railways’ main coach production plants in Perambur near Chennai.

Maintaining that there were 28,000 level crossings and 4,000 of them were still unmanned, he said “the railways has taken a policy decision that by Ganesh Chaturthi of 2018, not a single unmanned level crossings will remain all will be removed on heavily congested routes.”

He said technology was being studied and efforts are on make them useful in the Indian context to ensure more safety and the accident rate was also coming down.

Government Job Recruitment Decreased By Close To 10% In 2016-2017 In Comparison To Previous Year

In the year 2016-2017 there was a decrease in government job recruitment by 10% in comparison to 2015-2016. As per the data given by Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh in the Rajya Sabha, a total of 100933 recommendations for appointment were made by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC) and Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) in the year. This is lesser than last year’s figure: ‘A total of 1,11,807 candidates, or 10,874 more, were recommended by these recruitment agencies during 2015-16, according to the minister’s reply,’ reported news agency PTI.

While 5735 selections were made through UPSC, 68880 were through SSC and 26318 were through RRBs. Comparing with last year’s numbers, recruitment has fallen down drastically in the Indian railways; however a larger share of recruitment is expected from the sector in the coming year as Apprentice recruitment is on spree.

Last year, the UPSC recommended 6,866, SSC finalised 25,138 and RRB/ RRCs recommended 79,803 candidates, ‘Jitendra Singh said. ‘A total of 1,13,524 people were selected by these organisations– 8,272 by the UPSC, 58,066 by SSC and 47,186 by RRB/ RRCs– in 2014-15,’ he further added.

However these figures do not include recruitment made by the state governments, banks, other financial institutions, universities, central public sector enterprises, statutory/ autonomous bodies and directly by the ministries/departments without going through the UPSC/ SSC, he further clarified.

This also doesn’t include the contractual recruitment done by various central government bodies.

“Ministries/ departments engage contractual services directly and they only are responsible for appointment of regular employees against vacant posts after completing all necessary procedural formalities. No centralised data of employment in government departments is maintained in this regard,” the minister said.

Indian Railways Apprentice Recruitment 2017 For Northern Railway Zone

Indian railways has begun recruitment process for ‘engagement of Act Apprentices under the Apprentices Act 1961 for imparting training at various Divisions/Units/Workshops over Northern Railway.’ Online applications can be submitted till 27 January 2018. The first merit list will be displayed between 15 February 2018 and 28 February 2018. A total of 3162 vacancies are open for recruitment. In order to be eligible, ‘Candidate must have passed 10th class examination or its equivalent (under 10+2 examination system) with minimum 50% marks, in aggregate, from recognized Board and must have passed ITI in relevant trade recognized by Government.’ Details of the recruitment are available at the official website rrcnr.org.

Applicants must be in the age group of 15-24 years. Upper age limit is relaxable by 05 years in case of SC/ST candidates, 3 years in case of OBC candidates. For Persons with Disability, upper age limit is relaxed by 10 years.

While applying, candidates should be very particular about the cluster and units according to their ITI trade. ‘It should not happen that candidate select a Cluster or Unit where there is no training slot requirement for your ITI Trade. In such a situation their application may eventually become meaningless, as he would not be allowed to make any changes after the final submission,’ clarifies the recruiting body.