Indian Railways News

Stall Where PM Once Sold Tea May Become Tourist Spot, Says Minister

A small tea stall near Vadnagar railway station in Gujarat is all set to become a tourist spot. This is the same tea stall where Prime Minister Narendra Modi sold tea as a child.

“Inside the Vadnagar railway station, there is a small tea stall, from where our PM had probably started his life’s journey. We also want to develop that tea stall as a tourism spot. Our aim is to put Vadnagar on world tourism map,” Union Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said.

The union minister, however, clarified that although there is a plan to develop Vadnagar railway station as a tourist destination, there is no proposal for giving a facelift to the tea stall. Instead, the original charm of the tea stall will be preserved while giving it a modern touch.

“The ministry of tourism along with the ministry of railways are developing the Vadnagar Railway station as a tourist destination. We have already discussed the plans. As of now there are no plans to give any facelift to the tea stall,” Mr Sharma said in a statement.

The stall is located on one of the platforms of the Vadnagar Railway station.

Officials of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had visited the town on Sunday.

“Apart from being the birthplace of our Prime Minister, Vadnagar is an important historical centre having famous Sharmishta Lake and a step-well. ASI had recently found remains of a Buddhist Monastery during excavation, which is still going on,” Mr Sharma said.

Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Modi had often mentioned that he used to sell tea during his childhood at the Vadnagar railway station along with his father.

Earlier, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Ahmedabad Dinesh Kumar had said the entire project of developing Vadnagar and adjoining places in Mehsana district would cost over Rs. 100 crore.

“The development of Vadnagar railway station is one of the components of the Rs. 100 crore project to develop Vadnagar, Modhera and Patan as tourist destinations. As of now, the Ministry of Tourism has given Rs. eight crore to the state Tourism Department to develop the railway station,” Mr Kumar had said.

GST, A Great Unifying Factor: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today termed the Goods and Services Tax as a great unifying factor, both in societal and political spheres in the country.

The GST was in the public domain for long and brought together all stake-holders like political parties, traders, industries and common people to debate and discuss, before coming into effect, despite some rhetoric by some of them at implementation stage, Mr Prabhu said.

Interacting with major industrial and trade associations, such as local chapters of CII and Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on GST, he said the country’s GDP growth to the tune of eight to nine per cent was inevitable and the new tax rates would contribute significantly towards this.

The one single change in the law made simple was unthinkable and unimaginable, as the major challenge for growth of industries and trades was taxes, he said.

Though some (political parties) were criticising GST, their coming together for shaping such a reform was commendable, he said.

Earlier, talking to reporters after attending a function at the local BJP office, Mr Prabhu said there would be more job creation and reduction in corrupt practices.

 However, replying to a question on not bringing petroleum products under GST, Mr Prabhu said it has to be decided and answered by the GST Council.

Railways, NBCC to redevelop 10 Railway stations

3 Jul 2017 in Category(ies):  Posted on Categories Indian Railways, Rail Land Development Authority, New Delhi, Railways and its role in Real Estate Industry

NEW DELHI: Rail Land Development Authority today joined hands with National Building Construction Corporation for redevelopment of 10 railway stations across the country on global standards.

The Railways has embarked on an ambitious project to redevelop 403 stations with the participation of private players, public sector and foreign agencies.

The identified stations to be taken up initially by NBCC for redevelopment are Tirupati, Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Nellore, Puducherry, Madgaon, Lucknow, Gomtinagar, Kota, Thane (New), and Ernakulam.

An MoU was signed between RLDA, an arm of the Railways for commercial exploitation of rail land, and NBCC, a PSU of urban development ministry for implementation of station redevelopment projects for the 10 identified stations.

Speaking on the occasion, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that the Railways has taken up this programme of station redevelopment in a big way, adopting a multi-pronged strategy to accomplish the mammoth task.

“We have chosen PPP model and are roping in varied agencies to execute the project namely Railways’ own PSUs, other Central government PSUs, foreign countries through government-to-government cooperation and state governments”.

Urban development ministry, which had launched a mega project of developing 100 cities as smart cities, joined the Railways in redeveloping stations as smart stations.

Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said “It is a very good idea to develop smart stations along with the smart cities”.

Once the stations are redeveloped, the passengers will get facilities of world standard.

NBCC has now been given 10 stations in first phase for redevelopment and more stations would be given to them in subsequent phases.

RLDA and NBCC shall form a Special Purpose Vehicle in the form of a joint venture company to execute the station redevelopment project. The JV shall redevelop the stations on a self-financing model.

Earlier in October 2016, an MoU was signed between the ministries of railways and urban development for integrated planning for redevelopment of railway stations in the cities included in the Smart Cities Mission and AMRUT schemes.

Rail shortage hits Railways safety overhaul badly

A planned $15 billion safety overhaul of ageing rail network is facing delays as the country’s state steel company is unable to meet demand for new rails, according to two government documents seen by Reuters.

State-owned Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has promised to meet only around 78 per cent of demand in the year to end-March 2018, prompting Indian Railways to escalate the problem to the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, communications between the railways and the steel ministry show.

The shortfall means upgrades of the accident-prone network could move at a slower pace than the five years initially planned, and underscores the problems facing Modi as he tries to modernize India’s infrastructure. Supplies of rails are only expected to improve next year.

“(The) ambitious programme of capacity augmentation undertaken by railways and track renewal, the foremost priority in the recently created (railway safety fund) … crucially hinges on the supply of rail,” Railways Board Chairman A.K. Mital wrote in a letter to Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma on May 19.

“Unless SAIL steps up supply, the whole programme will be at risk.”

The state rail operator is in the middle of a $130 billion, five-year overhaul to modernise the world’s fourth-biggest network.

The government in February launched an additional $15 billion fund to tackle a 25 percent rise in train accidents due to track defects over the past two years.

Loss-making SAIL, whose revival is being managed by the steel ministry, supplied about 620,000 tonnes of rails in the fiscal year to end-March, well short of demand of 1 million tonnes. In a meeting called by Modi’s office on February 14, SAIL told the railways that supplies would fall well short of demand this fiscal year too, according to the letter.

This represents about 78 per cent, but the rate of supplies for the first two months suggested SAIL would struggle to meet even its own reduced target, Mital said in the letter.

“The shortfall needs to be made good quickly and supply rate accelerated to meet the committed quantity (for this fiscal year),” Mital wrote.

SAIL and Modi’s office did not respond to requests seeking comment. The railways had no immediate comment and Mital did not respond to a request for comment.

SAIL MONOPOLY

Indian Railways have considered ending SAIL’s monopoly on supplying rail, but Modi’s cabinet in May made the use of local steel mandatory for government infrastructure projects, ruling out the use of imports.

Local firm Jindal Steel and Power Ltd has tried for years to win a rail supply contract, but is battling a long-standing preference by Indian policymakers for state companies over private firms for big-ticket government projects.

Executives at SAIL, which has lost money in the last seven quarters, have said a surge in demand to replace old tracks and lay new ones meant it was struggling to meet supply targets, despite a rise in production from its existing plant.

Steel secretary Sharma wrote to SAIL on May 29, in a letter seen by Reuters, noting that the railway upgrade was a “very important national project” and that “any shortfall in rail supplies to this project would be taken seriously”.

Sharma told Reuters a new SAIL mill at Bhilai, in eastern India, will help the steelmaker boost capacity, which should ease the rails deficit. SAIL has targeted total capacity of 2 million tonnes per year from its Bhilai plant.

“We are conscious about the concerns of the railway ministry but we have enough rail manufacturing capabilities within the country,” she said.

Soon, passengers can travel in economy AC coaches; fares less than normal 3AC tariff

Train passengers will soon have option of travelling in a new class of ‘Economy AC coaches’ with fares less than normal 3AC tariff.

The proposed fully AC train will have three-tier Economy AC coaches besides AC-3, AC-2 and AC-1 classes as part of the transformation exercise. An added feature would be automatic doors.

However, the passengers will not require blankets in the Economy AC class like other AC coaches as the temperature will be around 24-25 degrees.

Currently Mail and Express trains have Sleeper, Third AC, Second AC and First AC classes while Rajdhani, Shatabdi and recently introduced Humsafar and Tejas trains are fully air- conditioned.

The railways is exploring an idea to introduce fully AC trains in select routes, aiming to provide comfort by facilitating AC travel for maximum passengers.

An exercise has been undertaken for a transformation in service by upgrading existing facilities in trains and stations and a separate cell has been created by the Railways for this.

“There will not be any chilling effect like in other AC classes and the temperature will be fixed around 24-25 degrees. The aim is to make the passengers comfortable and not make them feel the outside heat,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The recently launched Humsafar Express, comprising 3-AC coaches only, has become very popular.

The fully AC train with more Economy AC coaches is expected to cater to more passengers.

However, the details of the Economy AC class are to be worked out before deciding for manufacturing such coaches, said the official.

Designer fluorescent jackets, T-shirts for rail staff

Customer-facing staff of railways will be sporting designer uniforms complete with fluorescent jackets and black and yellow T-shirts from this festive season in October.

About five lakh railway employees comprising on-board staff, TTEs, station masters, guards, drivers and catering personnel will be in new uniforms designed by fashion designer Ritu Beri for the railways.

With the Indian Railway logo embossed, half and full sleeve T-shirts in black and yellow combinations have been designed for the front office staff.

Another set of T-shirts in white with black border has been created for the catering staff deployed in trains.

Two types of half-fluorescent jackets – yellow and green – are being designed keeping TTEs, guards and drivers in mind.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in his 2016-17 budget address had said, “The uniforms of all customer-facing roles will be refurbished to clearly distinguished them on our network.”

Currently, railway staff including TTEs, station masters and guards wear uniforms which were designed long ago.

The transformation journey of railways through new uniform designs reflects the renowned spirit of the organisation, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The new uniform will also be given to the technical staff in workshops and production units.

“We are examining the new designs of uniforms submitted by Ritu Beri and decision on final selection would be taken shortly,” he added.

There could be some alterations and changes, if necessary, after the initial trial in some rail divisions.

The new design would be tried on a few Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains first as part of Project Swarn and later on it would be extended to other services.

Project Swarn envisages complete makeover in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains to enhance travelling experience of passengers.

Railways is planning to unveil the brand new look Rajdhani/Shatabdi trains with smartly dressed on-board staff on October 2.

Railways in the process of developing SFC: Suresh Prabhu

Indian Railways is in the process of developing a Southern Freight Corridor (SFC), which would be connected to one of three corridors, Union minister Suresh Prabhu said on Sunday.

The three Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) planned by the Railways will provide logistics support to the ‘Make in India’ campaign and one of the corridors will be connected with the Southern corridor for the benefit of smooth movement of freight from Southern states, Prabhu told reporters here.

“The southern states will significantly benefit from the DFC as it will be connected to southern part of the country,” he said.

Stating that freight corridors will completely criss-cross the country boosting freight movement, Prabhu said, “We will have to develop a huge backbone of infrastructure for the logistics, if Make in India has to succeed.”

He said that 10 products were the mainstay of Railway’s income and two-third of the revenue came from the freight.

However the income from freight was on a declining trend in the last couple of years, despite increase in tonnage, and in order to augment revenue, freight rates will be reduced soon, Prabhu said.

To a query on plans to help farmers in distress, Prabhu said that the Railways has operated additional freight trains to lift onions from Maharashtra to help the farmers.

Noting that transportation of the produce was the biggest problem being faced by the farmers, the minister assured that Railways will extend any support required for them and asked Container Corporation of India to look into the issue.

Stating that the farmers, who are in difficulty, are of the top priority of the Government, Prabhu said that if required necessary cold chains and storage facilities can be extended to them.

To another question on GST implementation, he said “It is good for economy.”

Uber Ties Up With Southern Railway In Coimbatore

Even as it celebrates two years of services in the city, Uber, today announced a partnership with Southern Railway in Coimbatore.

Through this partnership, Uber will set up kiosks and provide dedicated pick-up and drop zones at Coimbatore Junction.

In conjunction with Uber’s second anniversary in the city, the company aims to provide reliable first and last mile connectivity option to the Railway station and Coimbatore is the first city in Tamil Nadu that marks the partnership with Railways, Uber South General Manager, Christian Freese said in a release here.

“We are very excited about our partnership with Southern Railway as we celebrate two years of Uber in Coimbatore. By complementing the available public transit infrastructure, we’re bridging the first and last mile connectivity gaps, making it easily accessible to commuters,” he said in the release.

Riders would be able to book an Uber from the kiosks set up at Coimbatore junction and representatives would help riders get to their destinations without having to worry about access to smartphone or internet connectivity, he said. Uber’s mission is to bring reliable transportation to everywhere, for everyone, he said

Passenger gives up Train Fare subsidy, sends Cheque, Letter to Railways

The Railways is in a fix over a cheque of Rs 950 sent by a passenger apparently to give up the subsidy borne by the government on the train fare between Jammu and Delhi.

Currently, the Railways bears 43 per cent of the cost of all rail fares even as the public transporter incurs a loss of about Rs 30,000 crore every year in subsidising passenger fares.

“There is no provision to accept such cheques so we will return it,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

In order to make passengers aware of the subsidy burden on the fare, it had started printing – “Indian Railways recovers only 57 per cent of cost of travel on an average” – on the computerised printed tickets issued to passengers since June 22 last year.

Recently, a person travelling from Jammu to New Delhi saw the message written on his ticket about the 43 per cent subsidy borne by the Railways during his train journey.

He then decided to forego the subsidy and sent a cheque of Rs 950 to IRCTC for a similar train journey undertaken by him and his wife on the Jammu Rajdhani.

He sent the cheque along with a letter addressing the railway minister stating that “he will never avail such financial benefits in future”.

The Railways had already given an option to senior citizens for foregoing concessions while buying tickets.

“But foregoing senior citizen concession is voluntary now and we are planning to make it broadbased covering other categories as well,” he said.

The Railways recovers only 57 per cent of the expenses incurred for passenger transportation through sale of tickets of all classes.

The Railways thus aims to convey a message to passengers that they have been given a subsidy of 43 per cent, or in other words, the transporter is incurring heavy losses to the tune of 43 per cent for ferrying travellers.

Railways to add 400 Megawatt Solar Power capacity in the current fiscal

The Indian railways, which is working on an ambitious plan to reduce its dependence on conventional fuels and cut down energy bill, is planning to award 400 Megawatt (Mw) of solar energy generation capacity in the current financial year.

The transporter plans to award 200 MW of rooftop solar and 200 MW of land-based solar energy capacity in the current fiscal. Overall, railways has a target of installing 1,000 Mw of solar power and 200 Mw of wind energy by 2020.

“In terms of solar rooftop installations, we have a target of installing 500 Mw till 2020. So far, we have commissioned 17 Mw rooftop solar with the latest being 750 Kw at Guwahati, Assan. Our target is to award 200 Mw of rooftop this financial year out of which 100 Mw will be through the PPP route,” Railway Board Member (traction), Ghanshyam Singh told ETEnergyworld.

The national carrier is working with Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) for setting up 150 Mw solar energy capacity in Assam, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. “The 150 Mw will be set up on solar parks. In addition to this, the Railway Energy Management Company Ltd (REMCL) is also finalizing setting up 50 Mw solar capacity on railway land by next year as well as 62 MW of solar rooftop, the tender for that will be issued in a week’s time,” he said.

REMCL will also be setting up another 50 MW following confirmation of the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). In addition, Indian Railways is also working with Central Electronics Limited (CEL) for installing 100 MW of solar energy capacity. “We aim to cover 770 stations under this. MNRE is yet to provide the Viability Gap Funding (VGF),” a railway ministry official said.

The national carrier, under its ‘net zero energy’ plan is also planning to set up solar plants in a bid to run nearly 8000 stations on solar energy, as reported by ETEnergyworld. “We will be setting up solar plants in 800 stations. We have also begun sanctioning study for covering another 4,000 stations under the same category,” Singh said.

The national carrier is also planning to procure 300 Mw of solar energy from the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar (RUMS) park in Madhya Pradesh. “From Rewa, 50 MW solar energy capacity is in the final stages and another 250 MW is under negotiation. We are set to meet our required target by 2020,” Singh added.

He also added that the national transporter is working towards meeting its wind energy requirements too. With 37 MW of wind energy capacity commissioned so far, Indian Railways will be floating a tender for another 35 MW apart from 10.5 MW of wind capacity installation in the pipeline.