Indian Railways News

Indian Railways News

Kolkata Metro To Run Special Services For NEET Aspirants On September 13

In a bid to ease travel woes of several thousand National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) aspirants, the Metro Railway in Kolkata has decided to operate special services on September 13, an official said on Wednesday. This service will be exclusively for medical entrance examinees and their guardians, Metro Railway spokesperson Indrani Banerjee said

Examinees will have to show NEET admit cards at the gates of Metro stations, she said. Normal Metro services were suspended due to lockdown announced in March and efforts are on to restart operations soon.

“No token will be issued to commuters and only printed card tickets will be issued to the bonafide students and their guardians,” Ms Banerjee said.

A total of 66 trains – 33 each in up and down directions – will run on September 13 from 11 am to 7 pm from the two terminal stations, Noapara and Kavi Subhash. These services will be available in every 15 minutes, she said.

Candidates for Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) had faced a tough time reaching exam centres due to lack of transport facilities earlier this month.

14 Children Trafficked From Bihar Rescued In Delhi, 10 Arrested

The Railway unit of the Delhi Police has rescued 14 children allegedly trafficked from different districts of Bihar to Delhi and arrested 10 people, officials said today.

As per protocol, the rescued children who are in the age group of 12-14 years have been taken to a quarantine centre in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar, they said.

The matter came to notice after an information was received from an NGO on September 7 about 14 children being brought to Delhi by Mahananda Express Train from different districts of Bihar, a senior police official said.

A joint operation was launched at the Old Delhi Railway Station by police along with NGO Bachpan Bacho Andolan, Salam Balak Trust and RPF personnel.

The team kept a vigil on the movement of passengers and closely monitored the CCTV cameras to see any suspicious movement, he said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Railways) Harendra K Singh said “Ten persons were detained and 14 children accompanying them were rescued. These children were medically examined and taken to quarantine centre, Lajpat Nagar.”

“They were produced before the Child Welfare Committee through video conferencing. Based on their statements before the committee, a case was registered and the ten accused persons were arrested,” he added.

During interrogation, the accused disclosed that the children belong to different districts of Bihar.

Among those rescued, nine children are from Katihar, two from Begusarai, two from Kishanganj and one from Purnia. They had planned to take them to different places including four to Azadpur and two to Seelampur in Delhi, two to Faridabad in Haryana and six to Punjab, he said.

Due to the shortage of labourers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the traffickers saw an opportunity to get the children employed in factories and targeted poor families in Bihar, the DCP said.

Restart Migrant Trains From Odisha, Minister Urges Colleague Piyush Goyal

Within days of a road accident that killed seven migrant workers travelling from Odisha’s Ganjam to cloth mills in Gujarat, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has urged Railways Minister Piyush Goyal urging him to restart Special Shramik trains from his home state so people can “safely return to work” and “help restart the economy”.

In his letter to Mr Goyal, the Petroleum Minister – who is an MP from Odisha – said he was making the representation on behalf of Ganjam’s migrant workers seeking to return to the industrial states of Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

“There was a mass exodus of migrant workers from states like Gujarat, Karnataka, and Maharashtra to Odisha in the wake of Covid-19 lockdown… These workers have highlighted their plights due to the unavailability of livelihood options and difficulty in travelling back to their workplace for re-joining work. Even though some employers are willing to offer bus transport service from Odisha, a long and arduous journey via road is neither feasible nor safe for such long distances due to prevailing monsoon conditions,” Mr Pradhan wrote.

He further emphasised that there is a need to resume rail services – which continue to remain suspended since before the nationwide coronavirus lockdown started on March 22 – for migrant workers “keeping in mind the need to re-ignite our economy”.

“I request your personal intervention for restarting of Shramik Special Trains from Odisha to states like Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra at the earliest,” the Petroleum Minister said in his letter.

The request comes even as the Railways plans to start, from September 12, 80 new trains in the reverse direction of the Shramik Special trains to help migrants return to work.

The Shramik Special trains were started to facilitate return of migrant workers, left jobless amid the coronavirus lockdown, to their home states after lakhs of them started walking back because all public transportation services stood suspended.

The request comes even as the Railways plans to start, from September 12, 80 new trains in the reverse direction of the Shramik Special trains to help migrants return to work.

The Shramik Special trains were started to facilitate return of migrant workers, left jobless amid the coronavirus lockdown, to their home states after lakhs of them started walking back because all public transportation services stood suspended.

Kolkata Metro To Give Colour-Coded E-Passes To Maximum 400 Per Train

A colour-coded e-pass system using a mobile phone has been developed by a technology solutions company in Kolkata for ensuring that a maximum of 400 passengers board a Metro Railway train in the city to maintain COVID-19 health safety protocol after it resumes service.

Sanjay Chatterjee, network and security solutions head of Ideation Technology, which was asked by the Metro authorities to develop the system, said that a bot-based (web robot) technology will be used to generate e-passes that will be colour-coded to ensure that only authorised passengers enter the stations at a given time in order to maintain the maximum passenger count.

“The main challenge was to come up with a solution which can be easily used by people – those who have smartphones and also those who have analogue phones; without installing any app,” he told PTI.

“So we came up with a simple technology, we have developed a system similar to that of Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, wherein one can start it by just clicking open a link,” Mr Chatterjee said.

He said that a bot is being used for the purpose wherein it will ask the intending passenger his or her name, the boarding station, destination and the preferred time slot.

A passenger will be given a total of five questions, including one on language option, which he has to answer using the link in the mobile phone.

Mr Chatterjee said that the passengers will have three language options – Bengali, Hindi and English.

“The Metro authorities have told us that a maximum of 400 passengers can be carried in a train at any point of time, based on that either the chosen time slot will be given and if the number of passengers has already reached the threshold, a different time slot will be asked for from the intending passenger,” he said, adding that the process will not take more than 10 to 12 seconds.

Mr Chatterjee said that on the basis of availability, QR code will be generated immediately and e-pass will be given online to the user.

He said that the e-passes will be colour coded based on the hourly time slots.

“The colour code will help easy validation by security personnel of the e-passes as per the time slots and thus avoid queues at the entry points at stations,” Mr Chatterjee said.

He said that for example, if yellow colour code is being used for a particular hour slot, a passenger with a different colour-coded e-pass will not be allowed to enter a station at the time.

The West Bengal government last week proposed developing a system to issue e-passes to commuters for entering Metro Railway stations during a meeting between senior Metro and state officials to ensure maintenance of social distancing norms.

Senior officials of the Metro Railway and the state government met for the second time on Friday last to discuss the modalities regarding maintaining social distancing norms and crowd management, according to a Metro spokesperson.

The developer of the system for issuing e-passes explained it to the committee during the meeting, the spokesperson said.

Metro Railway general manager Manoj Joshi has said that the final date for resumption of the city’s rapid transit system will be fixed shortly.

The Union Home Ministry has issued Unlock 4 guidelines under which Metro railway services in cities will be allowed to resume from September 7 in a graded manner.

The West Bengal government had written to the Railway Board seeking resumption of Metro and suburban train services in a limited manner maintaining the norms of physical distancing and health and hygiene protocols.

Officials Discuss COVID-19 Protocols For Resuming Kolkata Metro Services

Senior officials of the Metro Railway and West Bengal government met today to discuss the modalities of putting in place social distancing norms and crowd management for resumption of services.

Describing the meeting as “very good”, Metro Railway spokesperson Indrani Banerjee said another round of discussion might take place on Friday.

“The state government and the Metro authorities will have further discussion with the focus being on finding better solutions to manage crowds at the gates of the stations,” she said.

Representing the Kolkata Metro in the meeting at the state secretariat were the chief signal and telecom engineer, who is also its additional general manager, the principal chief operations manager and the chief security commissioner, Ms Banerjee said.

“We have assured the Metro authorities of all forms of assistance to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are followed while passengers avail the services,” an official at the state secretariat said.

Indian Railways set to operate more passenger trains, consultations with states on

The railway ministry is planning to operate more passenger trains as India enters Unlock 4.0, a senior official has confirmed.

Trains, however, will be introduced in a staggered manner, as consultations with State governments are still on.

The Indian Railways had halted passenger train operations in March this year as India went under a stringent lockdown amid the outbreak of Covid-19.

“More special trains are being planned..State Governments are being consulted,” an official spokesperson of the railway ministry said on Tuesday.

As restrictions were eased in phases, 30 Rajdhani trains were put into service in May and 200 trains started operations on June 1. The ministry also began operating shramik special trains for transporting stranded migrants back to their home states, May 1 onwards. Over 4,000 such trains have been operated by the National transporter.

Scheduled passenger train services, however, are likely to remain suspended.

“Once we get green signals and clearance from the Home ministry, we will decide how many trains are to be introduced, but more trains are certainly on the anvil,” a senior railway ministry official told ET. “All trains may not start at once,” the official added.

A final decision is likely in a day or two, the official said. The number of trains will be decided upon depending on the conditions put forth by State governments

The Indian Railways operates around 13,500 passenger trains every day, and operations came to a screeching halt in may citing high risk of spreading the coronavirus. Freight trains, however, continued to operate.

A further resumption of passenger train services comes as the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is also set to resume its services. The gradual opening up of the economy continues, as the government tries to revive economic activity, hit severely by the lockdown.

Covid-19 cases in the country, however, continue to rise simultaneously, with the country recording close to 37 lakh cases so far.

JEE Main And NEET 2020: Railways Allows Special Suburban Services In Mumbai On Exam Days

The Railways will permit students appearing for NEET and JEE exams and their guardians to travel by special suburban services in Mumbai on exam days, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced on Monday.

“Supporting students appearing for NEET & JEE exams, Railways has permitted them, and their guardians to travel by special suburban services in Mumbai on exam days. General passengers are requested not to commute,” he said in a tweet.

The JEE Main admit cards and NEET admit cards will be considered as passes to enter the suburban stations. A statement issued in this regard also said that station and security officials have been instructed to allow the students during the exam days. Additional booking counters will also be opened at “important railway stations”, the statement added.

While the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is scheduled to be held on September 13, engineering entrance exam JEE-Main has been planned from September 1-6. Around 8.58 lakh candidates have registered for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)–Main and 15.97 lakh students for NEET. These exams were deferred twice in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kolkata Metro Says Services Will Resume When Centre Gives Nod

The Metro Railway in Kolkata said today that it will restart services on receiving the go-ahead from the Union Home Ministry and the Railway Ministry.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that the Metro Railway authorities can resume services, maintaining all COVID-related safety protocols.

“We will start the process of resuming services once we receive directives from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Railway Ministry,” Metro Railway spokesperson Indrani Banerjee said.

After receiving the go-ahead, the Metro authorities will discuss the modalities of running the services in the city with the West Bengal government, she told news agency PTI.

The chief minister announced a series of relaxations on Wednesday. Regarding the resumption of Metro and local train services, she said that the Railway authorities should speak to state officials to work out the modalities.

Metro Railway, which forms an integral part of the city’s public transportation system, stopped services as the nationwide lockdown began in March to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Railways Engages Over 12,000 Workers Under Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan

Nearly two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Gareeb Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyan, the Indian Railways has engaged a total of 12,276 workers under this scheme till August 21. It has also generated more than 6,40,000 mandays of work under the scheme in six states, the Ministry of Railways said on Sunday.

“Till August 21, a total of 12,276 workers have been engaged under this scheme. The ministry has also released the payment of  1,410.35 crore to the contractors for the projects,” the Ministry of Railways said on Sunday.

Six states where mandays of work have been generated include – Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, an official release said here today.

Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is closely monitoring the progress in the schemes. Close to 165 Railway infrastructure projects are being executed in these states.

Till August 21, a total of 12,276 workers have been engaged under this scheme. The ministry has also released the payment of  1,410.35 crore to the contractors for the projects, the ministry further said.

Nodal Officers in each district as well as in the states have also been appointed for close coordination with state governments.

Among the works that have been identified for the execution of this scheme include – construction and maintenance of approach roads for level crossings, development and cleaning of silted waterways, trenches and drains along the track, construction, and maintenance of approach road to railway stations, among others, it said.

“This Abhiyaan of 125 days, is being undertaken in mission mode and involves focused implementation of 25 categories of works/ activities in 116 districts, each with a large concentration of returnee migrant workers in 6 states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and Odisha. Public works are being undertaken during this campaign will have a resource envelope of  50,000 crores,” the release by the ministry added.

The scheme is a convergent effort between 12 ministries/departments to speed up the implementation of 25 public infrastructure works and works relating to the increase of livelihood opportunities, the ministry said further.

Earlier, while launching the project on June 20, the PM had said, “Today is a historic day, a scheme for the welfare and for the livelihood of the poor has been started. It is dedicated to the workers, to the youths and women living in villages. The majority of these include those who have returned to their villages during the lockdown, they want to develop their village through their efforts and skill.”

“The country understands both your feelings and your requirements. The program is started through Khagaria today is a medium to meet your requirements. It will be run in 116 villages in six states,” he added.

How Indian Railways will function with private operators

The Indian Railways’ private train project which is currently underway will bring in 150 trains for private players to operate and is expected to see private investment of around Rs 30,000 crore. 109 pairs of routes have been formed into 12 clusters that will cover a majority of the railway network.

Around 23 global biggies, including Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, NIIF, GMR and ISquared Capital, are in the race for Railways’ privatisation pie.

As an ancillary push for the Make in India initiative, the project aims to upgrade passenger experience to world-class standards with modern train rakes manufactured in the country. The first-of-its-kind venture is scheduled to begin operations by 2023.

Here we take a look at what all will change — fare, number of stations, etc — after the project is rolled out.

Competitive pricing
Indian Railways has said that there will not be a fare regulator for private trains and market competition in the transport system would address risks of prohibitive pricing, adding that economic regulations may have an impact on project revenues.

“PTOs (Private train operators) are likely to compete with all modes of transport and are not likely to operate in a monopolistic environment. Accordingly, though PTO(s) will have autonomy to determine and levy fares, travelers would always have a choice for alternative trains/modes of transport. Such competitive tension should address such risk of prohibitive pricing by PTO(s),” a study of the private train project read.

The study further states the possibility of a rail regulatory body being set up in the country. Railway board chairman VK Yadav had earlier stated that the ministry is still considering setting up a regulatory authority sometime in the future.

Even in response to queries from potential PTOs who attended the pre-application meetings, the Railways said that it has no plans of capping fees. It also maintained that the national transporter will have a share in train tariff which is a large part of the gross revenue.

Freedom in choosing halt stations
PTOs will have the freedom to choose halt stations for the trains they operate, documents released by the Railways show. Private operators will have to submit a list of the intermediate stations on their trains’ path and the time in and time out at these stations in advance to the national transporter. This will form a train operation plan which will be in effect for at least a year, after which it can be revised according to a draft of the Concession Agreement.

The number of halts by the PTOs will be limited to the number of existing halts by the fastest train of the Railways operating in that route. The operation plan will further include the stations at which the water tanks will be filled, among other such information.

“The Concessionaire shall have the flexibility in deciding the stops/ halts in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Concession Agreement,” the Railways said.

Freedom to lease/purchase rolling stock
PTOs will be given the freedom to procure trains — whether they want to purchase or lease — according to the railway ministry. This would encourage companies without a rolling stock manufacturing capacity to participate in the tender without any obligation to own rakes.

Not a free run
Due to the revenue-sharing arrangement of the private train project with the central government, representatives of the national transporter will be deputed in PTOs’ offices.

PTOs will have to pay heavy damages to the Railways if trains are late or even early. According to an IE report, PTOs will have to guarantee at least 95 per cent punctuality each year to avoid financial penalties. For every 1 per cent short of 95 per cent the PTO is, extra haulage charge worth 200 km will be levied.

Further, if revenue is more than 1 per cent of reported revenue, the PTOs will have to pay 10 times the difference as damages to the Railways.