Indian Railways News

Railways start putting up barbed wires to stop Mumbai commuters from crossing tracks

For the first time ever, the Railways have started installing sharp, barbed metal wires – called concertina wires – to seal illegal entry and exit points on railway premises across Mumbai and dissuade people from crossing tracks.

Every year, around 3,000 people lose their lives on the local railway network. Of these, most people die while crossing tracks. To deter people, the Railways have, in the past, built cement-concrete walls along tracks, but there are many spots where the walls have been damaged or broken deliberately to allow illegal entries and exits.

On September 29, the Mumbai suburban train services saw one of the worst catastrophes in its history when 23 commuters lost their lives in a stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station. An enquiry committee of the highest level was formed, and the entire railway system is mobilizing to review and rework the way it provides passenger amenities and safety facilities.

Officials hope the wire fences will help reduce the number of track deaths.

The Railways have already started identifying vulnerable spots on the local suburban network and installing these spiked fences. Central Railway (CR) officials said they have fitted them along the tracks on the Thane-Airoli, Currey Road-Chinchpokli and Parel-Dadar stretches. “We are fixing wires at stretches commonly used to cross tracks,” said SK Jain, DRM.

The audit teams formed after the Elphinstone Road station stampede on September 29, to arrive at both short- and long-term measures to prevent a repetition of the incident that claimed 23 lives, recommended that a 17.5km-long concrete wall be built to seal railway boundaries.

Previously, the Railways have installed iron barricades between tracks at railway stations as people would hop across tracks to change platforms instead of using the foot over-bridges. These barricades have proved quite useful in stopping such trespasses at stations.

But this incident was about more than overcrowding a narrow foot bridge. It should compel policymakers to rethink transportation integration at a larger level.

Much of the focus after the deadly accident has been on adding more capacity. But if adding more train service was such an easy solution, then the World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transportation Project (MUTP), which has cumulatively invested more than $1.4 billion to upgrade and enhance suburban railway infrastructure, would have had a bigger impact by now. Instead, despite more than 2,800 suburban train services a day reaching some 8 million Mumbaikers, the average commuter still faces “super-dense crushed load” conditions, with up to 16 hapless commuters per square meter of train space.

In initiatives like MUTP, it is frequently assumed that new capacity will bring more comfort to riders. The first phase of MUTP aimed to bring down the number of passengers per train on the Western Railway during peak periods from 4,500 to 3,600, but could only achieve 4,016. The next phase started from a baseline of 5,400 peak hour passengers per train on the Western Railway route and set a more realistic target of 4,000, but could only achieve 5,257.

And herein lies the reason why project after project has failed to decongest Mumbai’s notorious rail system. Commuters are like water, always flowing through the path of least resistance. As long as the rail system is the only option for many people, more capacity will simply be filled with more demand. In the case of Mumbai suburban, the extra capacity created during peak hours was easily occupied by those who previously used other modes of public transport, private vehicles or previously traveled during non-peak hours. Indeed, after phase two of the MUTP, the World Bank’s independent evaluation group acknowledged that “better services increased demand more than had been expected.”

Yet, some policymakers have yet to learn these lessons. The third phase of MUTP is currently focused on quadrupling the length of track and adding additional train services.

To truly reduce congestion on suburban trains in the medium to long term, planning must take into account the bigger picture and become much more integrated.

Some 22 percent of commuters on Mumbai suburban trains travel less than 10 kilometers. Many could easily be shifted to non-motorized transport modes, like walking and cycling, if they had access to adequate and safe infrastructure. The example of congestion at Elphinstone Road is pertinent here. A large chunk of Central Railway route passengers get down at Dadar to catch the slow local to the next two stations, Elphinstone Road and Lower Parel. If there was well-developed cycling infrastructure integrated with the railway system, many commuters could easily cycle the 2.5-kilometer distance from Dadar to these stations instead.

It would take just a fraction of the $1.4 billion invested in MUTP projects to date to develop robust, sustainable cycling and walking infrastructure. Such changes would decongest trains far more effectively than adding more service. If needed, further mode shifts could be encouraged through fare changes to balance congestion and encourage healthy, sustainable modes of transport.

Why hasn’t this been done already? Fault lies with the institutional structure of the transport sector. India is the only country among the top 100 economies of the world where responsibility for transportation is segregated by mode across multiple government agencies. There is the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Shipping, and Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. Each handles some aspect of transport policy, but barely talks to the others. Add in the various state governments and you have a complex labyrinth of departments with virtually no convergence. There could be millions invested in a project within one ministry, but when an issue requires inter-departmental or inter-ministerial coordination, then no matter how beneficial the resolution might be for citizens, departmentalism makes it difficult to achieve. The case of universal ticketing for trains in Mumbai is a glaring example. After more than two years of futile attempts by the railways, Maharashtra Government and Mumbai Metro, there is nothing to show.

What Mumbai needs is not just more foot bridges, escalators and trains but a more mature and nuanced treatment of the transport policy landscape. Developing multiple modes of citizen-centric, integrated transport, with a focus on cheap and sustainable options, would go much farther toward preventing the next Elphinstone Road disaster than more tracks and more trains.

Safety Audit: NGO to identify issues at Mumbai Suburban Railway Stations

A safety sprawl will be conducted by ‘Safecity’ to understand issues with sexual harassment, infrastructure.

MUMBAI: Commuters travelling in local trains and crowded railway stations have been facing harassment issues every day. Recently there have been instances where women commuters had come forward to report about the harassment they faced while commuting at the railway stations.

In order to check how safe the railway stations in the city are, a group of activists along with citizens will be conducting a social audit called the ‘safety audit’ at three railway stations on the Western line.

While the first safety audit was conducted on November 8, Wednesday at Goregaon railway station, the other two social audits will be conducted in the afternoon at Andheri station on Thursday and Borivali railway stations on Friday.

The safety audit is organised by the NGO Safecity to evaluate and improve the safety of citizens by identifying problems and reporting it to the concern authorities.

As per the organisers, the objective of the safety audits is to assess the railway stations from the angle of safety and existing infrastructure. The organiser, said, “We will be communicating with commuters of all genders at the stations to understand the occurrence of sexual harassment at these stations. We are building an understanding of the needs of people and infrastructure for safer public transport (railways) and look forward to your suggestions.”

Other commuters who want to report any sexual harassment at stations can report it online at safecity.in.

A few years ago, as per a study conducted by another NGO revealed that many women have a tendency to not report instances of sexual harassment.

They have ignored sexual harassment faced by them or others out of fear of the consequences. It was also found that overcrowded trains, congested platforms, narrow footbridges make train travel more dangerous for women.

Railways owes Rs.366 Crore to BMC in Water Bills

The Railways owes over Rs 366 crore to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) towards water supply bills, reply to an RTI query has revealed.

MUMBAI: The Railways owes over Rs 366 crore to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) towards water supply bills, reply to an RTI query has revealed.

While the Western Railway is yet to pay Rs 205.74 crore to the civic body till date from 2001, the Central Railway’s outstanding bill amount is Rs 161.04 crore during the same period.

Activist Samir Jhaveri had sought to know the total bill amount that is pending and yet to be received from the railway authorities towards water supply made by the BMC.

In its reply, the hydraulic department of the municipal corporation said, “Payment of water bills worth Rs 205.74 crore is pending with the Western Railway, while the Central Railway’s outstanding amount from the year 2001 to November 3, 2017, is Rs 161.04 crore.”

Jhaveri said, “While on the one hand, the BMC paid Rs 26 crore to the railway authorities for construction, repair and maintenance of the foot over bridges (FOBs) at railway stations in Mumbai, on the other hand, the transporter is defaulting on this huge amount to the civic body. The BMC could have adjusted this outstanding amount with the payment it made to the railways.”

“I requested the BMC Commissioner to invoke stringent rules and act accordingly to recover the outstanding amount within a stipulated time,” the activist added.

When asked, chief spokesperson for the Western Railway, Ravinder Bhakar, attributed this outstanding amount to “unresolved policy issues” with the BMC.

“We have been regularly paying water bills to the civic body. But earlier, the BMC levied sewerage charges as well, which is not in our policy to pay.

This amount has swelled up owing to the compound interest year on year. The actual amount is not so much.”

According to Bhakar, a meeting with senior officials of the WR and BMC is scheduled to take place this month.

“Both the sides hope that the old issue would be sorted out,” he added.

RTI queries filed by other activists in the past had revealed that apart from railways, other government agencies and departments are also in the defaulters’ list of the BMC for the non-payment of water bills.

“We have been sending several reminders and notices to recover the pending bills. We have even brought amnesty scheme. However, a few agencies came forward to pay, while few others still continue to be in the defaulters’ list,” a senior civic official said.

Innanje to get a full-fledged Railway Station by November next

INNANJE, UDUPI: A new railway station with modern facilities along with a 1.1-km loop-line (railway track) would be commissioned here by the end of next year as part of the Konkan Railway’s drive to provide better facilities to the people of the region.

The commissioning of the new railway station, where only two trains halt at present at a small railway station, the size of a room, will serve the people of villages such as Shankarpura, Subashnagar, Katapady, Manchakal, Paniyur, Manjedy, Pangala, Bantakal and Shriva. A lot of people from these places travel to Mumbai and Bengaluru and are employed across the country and abroad. At present, people have to travel about 12 km by road to Udupi to catch an express train. The work on this new station started in April 2017.

Briefing presspersons here on Wednesday, Vijay Kumar, Assistant Executive Engineer, Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd., said that the new platform would be 560 m long. It will be a high-level platform with a full-fledged railway station, which is being constructed at a cost of ₹ 6.78 crore.

This station is equidistant (nine kilometres on either side) to the two railway stations — Udupi in the North and Padubidri in the South. “The construction of the station will also help in facilitating train crossings because of the loop line. Hence, it will be converted from a block station to a crossing station,” he said.

Earthwork by March

The earthwork for the station would be completed by March 2018, while the railway station, platform and staff quarters would be completed by June 2018. The commissioning of the station would be done in November 2018.

The railway station will have waiting rooms, station master’s room, signal room, electrical room, relay room, generator room, and toilet facility. “After the commissioning of this station, more trains will be able to stop here. But this will also depend on public demand,” said Sudha Krishnamurthy, Public Relations Officer.

A full-fledged crossing railway station is being constructed at Mirjan between Kumta and Gokarn in Uttara Kannada district. It would be completed in December 2018 at a cost of ₹ 7.12 crore.

One more platform and railway track would be laid and a foot overbridge connecting the two platforms would be constructed at the railway station in Murdeshwar by March 2018 at a cost of ₹ 5.89 crore, Mr. Kumar said.

India, Bangladesh Launch Multiple Connectivity Projects

Kolkata / Dhaka: A number of connectivity projects, including a new passenger train service between Kolkata and Bangladesh’s southwestern industrial city of Khulna, were today launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina that will help reduce the travel time by three hours.

These projects also include the second Bhairab and Titas railway bridges built at the cost of $100 million; and the International Rail Passenger Terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata.
The two leaders through video conferencing flagged off the inaugural run of the Bandhan Express, a fully air-conditioned weekly passenger train service, between Kolkata and Khulna.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee joined the inauguration through videoconferencing from West Bengal.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Modi said the ties of friendship between India and Bangladesh have further strengthened.

PM Modi said in Bengali, ‘Aaj ei shubho uplokkhe dui desh bashider amar abhinandan janai. Aaj amader moitreyee, bandhon aro sudriro holo’ (I congratulate the people of the two countries on this auspicious occasion. Our ties of friendship got more strengthened today.)
PM Modi said he was happy to launch the important projects to enhance connectivity.

“The most important dimension of the connectivity is the people-to-people linkage,” Prime Minister Modi said.

“The inauguration of the international passenger terminus will benefit passengers of the Kolkata-Dhaka Maitri Express and Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express. It will not only help them in customs and immigration but also save three hours of their travel time. The two rail services are named according to our shared vision,” he said.

He said India was proud to be a reliable partner in Bangladesh’s development.

“I am happy to know that work is in progress in our USD 8 billion concessional finance commitment. Development and connectivity are interconnected and we have taken steps to strengthen the decades-old historical links specially between the people of West Bengal and Bangladesh,” PM Modi said.
Prime Minister Modi said he believed that the two nations will touch the new heights in development and prosperity as they strengthen ties and relations between the people.

He thanked Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for their support.

Prime Minister Hasina said, “Today is a great day for relations between the two countries with the inauguration of the train services and the two bridges. This train service is a dream come true for people on both sides of the border.”

She said her country wanted collaborative engagements with India and other neighbours for regional peace and prosperity.

“We want to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating an area of peace in South Asia where we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for our peoples benefit,” she said.

Prime Minister Hasina said Bangladesh-India had set new high standards of bilateral cooperation which was essential for regional development.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also joined the premiers through video conferencing.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the launch of the projects as a remarkable day for India and Bangladesh.

“The relations between the two countries will strengthen in the future,” she said.

Luggage Etiquette – Yes, It’s A Thing And Here’s A Primer

It’s the season of the squeeze.

That should require absolutely no explanation, but just in case: Picture thousands of stressed-out holiday travelers in airport terminals, train stations and bus terminals, bundled up in winter clothing, all piling into a claustrophobia-inducing cattle-class cabin with luggage.

Is your blood pressure rising yet? Mine, too. “The worst offenders are people who abuse the carry-on luggage limit and take up more space than they are supposed to get,” says Raymond Lee, a finance director for a consumer goods company in New York and a frequent traveler. “They are also the ones who will put their luggage sideways and take up more space for no reason other than they just don’t care to do it right.”

But don’t take his word for it. Simply board a flight, grab a seat and watch. Chances are, you’ll see a fellow passenger try to wedge a too-large carry-on into an overhead bin, or a thoughtless passenger with a backpack whacking another traveler, or two people bickering over the space under their seats. It’s chaos.

What better time to brush up on your luggage etiquette and learn a defensive maneuver or two?

It starts with what you bring. “Consumers are looking for the most possible space and lightest-weight case possible,” says Scott Niekelski, a direct import manager at the National Luggage Dealers Association, a luggage distributor. That may be the wrong impulse. When it comes to proper luggage etiquette – less is more. The most experienced passengers travel light. Some don’t bring any luggage. “I ship my gear ahead to my destination, especially if I plan to be in one place for an extended period,” says Brian Teeter, the Irvine, California, author of the “Healthy Trekking Travel Guides” series. “That way, I can travel light and have my main luggage waiting when I arrive.”

Having no luggage is probably the only way to ensure you’ll never fight about it. But let’s be realistic: Most of us travel with at least a backpack, purse or some other kind of carry-on. On planes, carry-on luggage is a never-ending irritant. Airlines are partly to blame, since checked luggage fees incentivize passengers to carry most of their belongings with them. Protocol experts say the key to avoiding scraps over luggage is packing light and moving fast. Downsize to a smaller carry-on or a backpack, and place it in the bin above your seat – not someone else’s (that’s called bin-hogging, and it will almost certainly annoy the passengers below).

Speed matters. Don’t overstuff your bag to the point where you have to wrestle it into the compartment. “Stow carry-on luggage quickly in the overhead bin so other passengers may pass in the aisle,” says Rachel Wagner, a corporate etiquette consultant in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“If you need extra time to stow it, step into the seat area for a moment so others may pass by, then step back into the aisle when there’s a short break in the aisle.” No one likes a blocker, and that’s true at the luggage carousel, as well. Consider the mad dash for the best position. For some reason, passengers feel they own the spot immediately next to the conveyor belt, and they refuse to give it up for anyone, even if those people see their luggage and want to collect it.

“Don’t hover around the baggage carousel,” says photographer Gary Arndt, who travels constantly for work. “You block everyone else when their bag arrives. Stand at least several steps back from the carousel, and only step forward when your bag is actually coming past.” Backpacks are another source of pain for travelers, and that’s true not only on planes but also buses, trains or any mode of transportation with narrow corridors. The problem? During boarding and deplaning, it’s easy to turn quickly and unwittingly hit fellow passengers with them.

“Take bags off of your shoulder, especially backpacks, before walking down the plane aisle,” says Sarah Howell, a corporate trainer and frequent business traveler based in Austin. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been whacked in the face by someone carrying the contents of their entire life on their shoulder, with them none the wiser.”

A special note about kids: Parents, if you can avoid taking a stroller, do. Strollers are clunky and they’re easily damaged when you gate-check them. Also monitor older kids with luggage. “Don’t let children wheel their own suitcases through the airport,” says Evie Granville, a political campaign manager from Houston who hosts a lifestyle podcast that often deals with etiquette issues. “Instead, pack a backpack for them to carry.”

I concur. My 12-year-old son thinks his wheeled luggage is a go-cart. After a long flight to Alaska this summer, he had a chance to realize that dream. There’s an area between the main concourse and the car rental terminal that slopes down and, without warning, he threw himself down the incline with the enthusiasm of an Olympic bobsledder. He nearly collided with a passenger. Needless to say, he’s using the backpack next time we hit the road.

Luggage etiquette is only a partial solution to the seasonal squeeze. You have to also play defense. Watch out for the backpacks, the passengers with the overstuffed bags, the moms and dads with strollers and, yes, the tweens with wheeled luggage. Don’t assume they have the same good manners you do, and don’t be surprised if you have to dodge speeding carry-ons.

Train Engine Goes Rogue In Karnataka, Stopped After 13-Km Bike Chase

In Karnataka, scenes from Hollywood film ‘Unstoppable’ played out in real life. A runaway train engine that travelled nearly 13 kilometres without a driver was brought to a halt after a dramatic chase on a bike.

On Wednesday afternoon, a Mumbai-bound train arrived at Karnataka’s Wadi Junction where the electric engine is swapped with a diesel engine as part of the onward journey (Wadi to Solapur) isn’t electrified. After switching the two engines, the loco pilot got off it and to his horror, the diesel engine began moving in the opposite direction.

What happened next is straight out of a movie as a railway staff member chased the rogue engine on a motorbike. The engine moved at a speed of 30km/hour, reported Times Of India. Railway officials alerted the next few stations to clear the signals and tracks to avoid any accident. Trains from opposite direction were also halted, officials said.

After a 20-minute chase, the ghost engine slowed down which is when the bike-riding official managed to board it and bring it to a stop. The engine finally came to a halt ahead of Nalwar station, nearly 13 kilometres away.

A special probe has been launched into why the engine ran amok, railway officials said. No mishap was reported in the dramatic chase, reported The Hindu.

Central Railway to raze illegal structures near stations in Mumbai

To facilitate passengers, the Central Railway (CR) has decided to demolish over 3,000 unauthorised structures located on railway’s land, including 63 religious structures with the help of local authorities.

After the stampede at Elphinstone Road station, in a joint meeting headed by minister of railways Piyush Goyal held at Churchgate, several multi-disciplinary teams were formed, which audited the stations on the city’s suburban network and submitted a report.

“During the audits of the station premises, many unauthorised structures were found which were creating inconvenience for the passengers,” said a railways officer, who was also a part of the disciplinary team.

In all, 63 religious structures such as, a Ganesh Mandir at GTB Nagar and Matunga stations; Saibaba Mandir at GTB Nagar, Sion, and Dadar stations; Hanuman Mandir at Dadar station; Mahadev Mandir at Dadar station, Datta Mandir at CSMT, and Masjid/Dargah at CSMT have been shortlisted for demolition by the railway officials. Officials also added that they do not want to hurt religious sentiments, and are only trying to safeguard the Railway safety and commuters’ lives.

Railways, BMC evict squatters from Elphinstone, Parel stations

The railways and BMC have finally decided to make peace with each other over whose responsibility it was to remove the encroachments near the foot overbridge (FOB) of Elphinstone Road and Parel stations. A week after reports in the media highlighted that nothing had changed since the stampede took place, teams of the Central Railway, civic body, Railway Protection Force and Mumbai Police demolished the hutments lining the approach road to the FOB.

Sunil Udasi, CPRO/Central Railway, said, “It was a special drive conducted by the Mumbai division. About 33 hutments were removed from the Parel side. The space will now be protected so that the structures don’t come up again.”

Sources said that though the FOB on the western side of the Elphinstone Road-Parel station, where the stampede had taken place, has been opened up after removing the panels on the side; the authorities concerned are planning to widen the staircase.

The encroachments that had come up in the area had narrowed down the approach road to the station and was also making it difficult for commuters to move about freely. Sources said that once all the encroachments, including an illegal temple, are removed, there would be a lot of space for free movement.

BMC chalks ‘laxman rekha’ outside Mumbai’s local railway stations to fend off hawkers

Saint Valmiki in the ancient Indian poem ‘Ramayana’ mentioned the ‘Laxman Rekha’ as an imaginary line that was drawn to ward off evil spirits and keep Sita safe.

As part of their drive to make railway surroundings and premises safer for commuters, India’s richest civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with the Railways has decided to adopt a similar concept in keeping hawkers stationed outside railway stations from entering the premises or vending in restricted zones.

Demarcation lines marking 150-metre zones to restrict hawkers from vending in the restricted areas were drawn by the civic body on Monday outside Mahim, Matunga, Dadar and Sion railway stations to ward off the ‘nuisance’ of hawkers.

The move comes in the wake of Bombay High Court’s order banning hawkers from vending on foot overbridges and near railway stations.

We have drawn lines indicating a 150-metre perimeter around railway stations. We have deployed a special team comprising senior inspectors and four workers with a van to monitor hawker encroachment. Currently, they work two shifts. But these nuisance detectors will work for 24 hours. We will also demarcate zones outside schools and religious places, assistant commissioner G (north) ward Ramakant Biradar told.

This move by the civic body has affected the daily livelihoods of hawkers pushing their trades near local railway stations. The BMC has become strict but we want to see how long this lasts, said one of the affected hawkers.

A major stampede at the Elphinstone Road station that claimed 23 lives on September 29 can clearly be noted as the reason behind the crackdown on hawkers vending outside and around local railway stations in Mumbai.

A list of habitual offenders who move around from one spot to the other near various stations is also being prepared and additional security personnel have been deployed to monitor the situation, said a spokesperson with the Railways.

Value Addition can be a Game Changer, says SAIL Chairman

SAIL’s Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP), Chairman, PK Singh has laid emphasis on giving value addition to its products and tailoring the product quality rather than focusing only on the volume aspect.

He said the DSP’s modern 1MTPA (million tonne per annum) capacity medium structural mill (MSM) is capable of producing world-class structural steel products, having a high demand for various on-going and upcoming infra and construction projects in India.

Singh also said with the Railways replacing its conventional coaches with German technology carriages in the next few years, wheels for new LHB Railway Coaches are in advanced stages of validation at Durgapur plant. The metallurgical testing of the wheels has already been completed.

He said that DSP is a plant designed to produce 7.5 lakh tonnes of semis (type of steel product), where SAIL-DSP in association with Centre for Engineering & Technology (CET) will tap the huge market for special grade semis. The semis would also explore possibilities in transmission line towers (TLT) and forging areas.

At DSP, the mill is producing parallel flange beams, joists, channels and angles, which are primarily used by infrastructure and construction segments. There is an increased demand of these products in the sectors like infrastructure, metro and construction, he said.

While expressing displeasure over tardy progress in critical areas of strategic importance, he said “SAIL must ramp up production from New Rail Mill in Bhilai without wasting any more time, and meet all the requirements of its major customers. Company should chalk-out a time bound action plan to cater to the Indian Railways’ increasing demand. SAIL must take its joint ventures at international level to logical conclusion at the earliest. Company must leverage its position in the industry, instead of not being able to fulfill its commitments and agreements.”

In October, the Minister for Steel Mr.Birendra Singh also directed to the company management to submit quarterly plans and targets, which will be reviewed after every three months. Steel Minister will also be meeting CEOs and EDs of Steel plants next month, to get direct feedback about constraints, bottlenecks and issues of concern.

The CEOs have to understand their direct accountability and responsibility for performance of the Unit under their charge, the Minister added. Mr.Singh emphasised that accidents in the Plants must be curtailed and highest safety standards must be adhered to in all Units. Safety should be a prime focus of all the plant heads and stress should be given on repair and regular maintenance to avoid unforeseen breakdowns, downtime and resulting loss of production. SAIL should focus on ensuring raw material security to avoid the vagaries of coal supplies currently afflicting the company, he added.

Birendra Singh said that SAIL should explore possibilities for developing new markets by adopting new technology and adding value added products to its basket, like non corrosive steel products for construction in coastal areas. SAIL should also focus on product differentiation to create value for the shareholders, thereby creating an exclusive space for the company. Efficiency improvement and product quality improvement at individual plant level should be focused upon to meet the customer requirements and to improve the financial performance of the company.

In the meeting, SAIL’s overall performance as well as that of individual Integrated Steel Plants (ISPs) on critical techno-commercial parameters were reviewed. Chairman/SAIL Mr.P. K. Singh made a presentation on action taken on the recommendations by Group of Experts appointed by Ministry of Steel.

The meeting was attended by the Minister of State for Steel, Vishnu Deo Sai, the Secretary Steel Dr. Aruna Sharma, senior officials from Ministry and SAIL including CEOs of SAIL Steel Plants.

BMRCL yet to release Rs.90 Lakh for construction of FOB between Bengaluru City station and KSR Metro station

Work on the proposed Foot Over Bridge (FOB) between Platform number 10 of Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (Bengaluru City) Railway station and the KSR Metro station via M G Railway Colony Road came to a halt three months ago. The reason — BMRCL is yet to release Rs.90 lakh sought by Bangalore Railway Division to complete the work.

The bridge is meant to ensure that both Metro and Rail passengers can easily commute between the two transportation modes. This FOB will be connected with the railway bridge in KSR station which connects all platforms from Platform 10.

As per the agreement entered between the two agencies, Railways will do the construction work while BMRCL will fund it. The FOB has missed two deadlines given by top railway officials — March and July.

According to Senior Divisional Engineer, Co-ordination, Bengaluru Railway Division, R K Singh, the FOB was initially estimated to cost Rs.93.48 lakh in 2013 when the proposal was made. “The cost was revised to Rs.188 lakh, with a maintenance cost of 30 per cent that Railways will incur along with other charges,” he told.

A letter written by a top BMRCL official to Railways last month requesting to waive off the maintenance charges as it was not listed in the initial estimate. The letter states that Railways needs to bear the maintenance charges. However, Railways insists that BMRCL bear the full cost. Asked about the reasons for the FOB showing no signs of completion, Divisional Railway Manager R S S Saxena said, “Work relating to the covering shelter and landing facilities for the bridge have not been completed due to paucity of funds. The moment they release it, we can restart the work.”

The DRM also said that in a meeting held with BMRCL officials on November 5, “The Metro MD promised to release funds within a week’s time.”Singh said the contractor carrying out the work for Railways is yet to be paid his dues of Rs.30 lakh. “If BMRCL releases Rs.99.29 lakh, the FOB will be ready for use by February 2018.