Indian Railways News

Prime Minister may accept Suresh Prabhu’s resignation ahead of Cabinet reshuffle

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may accept Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s resignation, who earlier today offered to quit over recent rail accidents in Uttar Pradesh.

Sources in the government said Prabhu’s resignation may be accepted ahead of the reshuffle of the Union Cabinet that the government is planning to announce shortly. Suresh Prabhu, taking moral responsibility of a series of mishaps, in a series of tweets, said he met the Prime Minister, but was asked to wait before putting in papers. If sources are to be believed, Modi may accept Prabhu’s resignation just before the Cabinet reshuffle.

“I met the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking full moral responsibility. Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait. I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish,” Suresh Prabhu said in tweet.

“In less than three years as minister, I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways. New India envisioned by PM deserves a railways which is efficient and modern. I promise that is the path, on which railways is progressing now,” Prabhu said on Twitter. “Under leadership of PM, tried to overcome decades of neglect through systemic reforms in all areas leading to unprecedented investment and milestones,” the minister added.

The development came hours after Railway Board chairman Ashok Mittal submitted his resignation to Suresh Prabhu on a day when Indian Railways witnessed yet another accident in Uttar Pradesh.

Man Falls Off Moving Train, Dies After No Help. Viral Video Prompts Action

A man lay injured on a train platform after falling off a moving train in Navi Mumbai, only to be thrown on to another train by railway police fifteen minutes later. He died hours later as a result of the apathy. Action was taken against the constable and two home guards after surveillance footage of the incident, which took place last month, went viral, railways officials said today.

The unnamed commuter was trying to get off a speeding suburban train at Navi Mumbai’s Sanpada Station when he fell off and injured himself. He was approached by a Railways Police constable and two Home Guards but instead of rushing the man to the hospital or providing first-aid, the three officials flung the injured passenger on the next train that arrived after fifteen minutes. Onlookers too turned a blind eye to the motionless man.

he suburban train was headed to Panvel and was diverted to the yard for maintenance, reported Mid-Day. The next morning, the man was discovered by cleaning staff who took him to Panvel Rural Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

The incident that took place in the early hours of July 23 came to light after surveillance footage from the train platform went viral. The GRP constable from the video was suspended and the two home guards were sacked, according to Mumbai Mirror.

Mumbai-bound train takes wrong route on ECOR, Station Master suspended

A Mumbai-bound express train from Odisha ran two kilometres in the wrong direction before rail officials realised the mistake and called it back.

The incident took place on Tuesday night, when the Puri-Mumbai Lokmanya Tilak Express, leaving Machhapur station in Odisha, went towards Rajkishorepur instead of Raj Athgarh. As soon as the mistake was noticed, the train was stopped and another engine pulled it back to the scheduled route.

East Coast Railway spokesperson JP Mishra said the station master of Machhapur has been suspended pending a departmental probe.

“It was a case of wrong operation. It was an irregular movement,” said Mishra.

The incident occurred on the day when the Azamgarh-Delhi Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh leaving around 74 injured.

In January, passengers travelling on the Anand Vihar-Bhubaneswar Super Fast Weekly Express in Rourkela junction had a few anxious moments when the engine moved ahead without the 15 bogies. The driver of the train realised only after he gone about two kilometres.

Nitin Gadkari may get Railway Ministry even as Narendra Modi reserves decision on Suresh Prabhu

Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari may get the additional charge of the Ministry of Railways if Union railways minister Suresh Prabhu’s resignation is accepted.

Prabhu had offered to resign on Wednesday taking moral responsibility for train mishaps, the most recent being the Kaifiyat Express which derailed on Wednesday, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reserved his decision and asked him to wait. Finance minister Arun Jaitley had also reiterated that Modi will take a stand on the resignation later.

Gadkari has emerged as a top favourite with several media reports claiming that he may be asked to take charge of the railway ministry.

And with a cabinet reshuffle already on the cards, a decision could be announced anytime soon. With Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) now part of the NDA alliance, a cabinet expansion is likely with several new faces finding space in the Narendra Modi cabinet.

According to party insiders, talks of a joint infrastructure ministry has re-emerged as well. The new ministry, it is being said, might be created combining shipping, highways, and railways or civil aviation and railways.

The possibility of the latter taking place seems higher, especially since Gadkari is part of the five-member ministerial panel, headed by Jaitley, that was tasked with deciding on the process of privatising Air India. But then Gadkari also holds a special interest for transport. So, it can swing either way.

Earlier today, Air India chief Ashwani Lohani was appointed as the new Railway Board chairman following the ouster of AK Mittal. If it’s indeed a joint civil aviation-railways ministry, irrespective of which other ministries that fall into Gadkari’s laps, the BJP leader will have a familiar face to start with.

Although Prabhu was tasked with the modernisation of Indian Railways since he took over in 2014, however, his tenure has been marred with accidents, nearly 347 of them so far. The Kaifiyat Express derailment on Wednesday came within just five days of the Utkal Express which derailed near Khatauli on 19 August in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district claiming 22 lives.

A two-day long statutory inquiry into the rail accident began on Tuesday in the divisional railway manager’s office in Delhi, however, initial reports claimed negligence from railway officials.

The Railways had on Sunday sent on leave three senior officials, suspended four officials and transferred one official following the train tragedy.

New Metro Rail policy stresses on States to improve Viability: ICRA Report

The new metro rail policy empowers states, by putting the onus on them to improve project viability by stressing on economic viability and private participation, according to a recent ICRA report.

The report elaborated that the viability can be improved by promoting transit-oriented development (TOD) and allying it with real estate development, improving last-mile connectivity as well as attracting private investments.

“The new metro rail policy will increase the state government’s role and responsibility in developing the new metro projects,” K Ravichandran, Senior Vice-President and Group-Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA, said in a statement.

The policy provides for rigorous assessment of new metro proposals, including alternate transit mode analysis to ensure that the least-cost and most-efficient mass transit mode is selected for public transport, the report pointed out.

Further, it also proposes an independent third-party assessment of proposals by government identified agencies.

“However, the policy’s increased emphasis on PPP model for metro development is expected to face challenges, given the low ridership witnessed in some of the operational metro projects and subdued interest of the private sector in taking up PPP projects,” Ravichandran said.

The PPP in the metro rail sector has so far been limited to only six such projects, one of which (Mumbai Metro Ph-2) was terminated before the start while another one (the Delhi Airport Line) was terminated after it became operational.

Currently, there are three operational PPP-based Metro projects (one in Mumbai, and two in Gurugram) while one project is under implementation (Hyderabad Metro).

The new policy plans to empower states to regulate and set up a Fare-Fixation Authority as well as promoting other non-fare revenues such as advertisements, lease of space, it noted.

Also there are provisions to raise resources using innovative mechanisms like ‘Betterment Levy’ on nearby assets, issuance of corporate bonds and improve last-mile connectivity for a catchment area of nearly five km, to promote metro ridership.


Air India Tenure One Of The Most Satisfying Periods Of My Life: Ashwani Lohani

Air India’s outgoing CMD Ashwani Lohani on Wednesday said he will miss the association with the airline and described his tenure as one of the most satisfying periods of his life. Mr Lohani, who has been at the helm of the carrier for nearly two years, will take over as the Chairman of Railway Board today.

“My journey with Air India has been one of the most satisfying periods of my life. Together, we could bring about major improvements and also expansion and in the process have been able to improve the image of the airline,” he said in a letter to employees.

He said it has been his fortune to work with a rare breed of men and women at the airline who make planes fly with “commitment, devotion and pride”.

“The time that I spent here as the head of this family shall always be one of the most cherished postings of my life and this association with Air Indians and their beautiful flying machines would always be missed,” he said.

The government is in the process of finalising the modalities for the divestment of Air India, which has been in the red for long.

Expressing his good wishes to the employees, Mr Lohani said, “May this organisation grow from strength to strength.”

 Mr Lohani, 58, is taking over as Chairman of Railway Board after the resignation of its current chief AK Mittal in the shadow of several train crashes. Mr Mittal reportedly resigned on Tuesday after he was asked to go on leave by the ministry over the Utkal Express derailment on Saturday. 23 people died when 13 coaches of the train jumped track around 100 km from Delhi. On Wednesday morning, over 70 were injured in another derailment.

Rajiv Bansal To Be Air India’s Interim Chairman After Ashwani Lohani

The government on Wednesday moved Ashwani Lohani, hailed as a turnaround specialist, from the now operationally profitable Air India to the Railway Board as its chairman, while giving interim charge of the national carrier to senior IAS officer Rajiv Bansal.

Mr Lohani replaces A K Mital at Railway Board at a time when the country’s largest transporter has faced two back-to-back derailments, including one where more than 20 passengers died, and for which Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu took “full moral responsibility”.

While Mr Lohani has been associated with railways in the past, his successor at Air India Mr Bansal also spent nearly two years at the civil aviation ministry between 2006 and 2008. Mr Lohani would be taking over as Railway Board Chairman today.
Mr Bansal has been appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India for three months.

 Presently, he is additional secretary and financial adviser at the petroleum ministry.
A senior civil aviation ministry official said that Mr Bansal has been appointed as Air India CMD for three months. Bansal is from the Nagaland cadre of 1988 batch and hails from Haryana.

He is taking over as Air India CMD at a time when the government is working on the modalities for the disinvestment of the loss-making national carrier.

Kaifiyat Express: Over 100 Injured After 10 Coaches Derail

Over hundred people are said to be injured due to the derailment of ten bogies of the Kaifiyat Express in Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh Wednesday morning. The derailment resulted from a collision with a dumper carrying construction material for railway work. The railways, however, claimed that only 25 persons have been injured.

The incident comes four days after the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed in Muzaffarnagar, killing around 23 people and injuring 72.
“10 bogies of the train derailed of which one overturned, leading to injuries to 100 passengers of which four with serious injuries were rushed to Saifai and Etawah hospitals,” said Superintendent of Police, Auraiya, Sanjay Tyagi.

There have been no casualties so far.

Secretary, Home, Bhagwan Swarup said the accident took place due to a loader carrying material for work on dedicated freight corridor. “The accident took place because of a loader carrying sand for track working for dedicated freight corridor. It overturned and came on the track,” he said.

“It was not an unmanned crossing. But there was a road parallel to the track on which the loader overturned,” Mr Swarup added.

Meanwhile, taking responsibility for frequent train accidents, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu offered to resign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, however, asked him to wait.

Mr Prabhu made the statement hours after Railway Board chairman AK Mittal resigned owning moral responsibility. Ashwini Lohani, the chairman of national carrier Air India, will replace him as the new chief of the board.

The number of deaths due to train accidents has already reached around 200 this year, the highest in a decade. There have been 62 incidents this year alone.

After Air India, Ashwani Lohani Will Now Head Railway Board

Air India chief Ashwani Lohani, viewed as something of a turnaround specialist, will take over as the new Chairman of the Railway Board after the resignation of its current chief AK Mittal in the shadow of several train crashes.

Mr Lohani, 58, belongs to the 1980 batch of the Indian Railways Service Mechanical Engineers.

Mr Mittal reportedly resigned yesterday after he was asked to go on leave by the ministry over the Utkal Express derailment on Saturday. 23 people died when 13 coaches of the train jumped track around 100 km from Delhi. This morning, over 70 were injured in another derailment.

Hours after reports of Mr Mittal’s resignation surfaced today, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted that he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and suggested that he had offered to quit after two accidents in five days. Mr Prabhu said PM Modi had asked him to “wait”.

Mr Lohani is the senior-most railway official with more than one year in the board.

He was handpicked for the Air India top job reportedly by the Prime Minister and was the first choice to replace Mr Mittal. Officials say under Mr Lohani, the struggling airline posted an operational profit of Rs. 500 crore last year and improved its performance. The government has announced that it may privatize the airline.

He has also served in the National Rail Museum and holds the Guinness Record for successfully running the ‘Fairy Queen Express’, the world’s oldest working steam locomotive. He is credited with the turnaround of the Madhya Pradesh tourism department.

Mr Lohani is believed to have four engineering degrees and he has written two books.

After the train accident on Saturday, the Railways Ministry sent three top officials on leave, suspended four local officials and transferred another over lapses.

Railways to introduce designer, easy to clean blankets soon

Plagued with complaints of dirty blankets, the Indian Railways has firmed up an action plan to increase the frequency of washing blankets and replace the existing ones with designer, lightweight blankets in a phased manner.

Besides, used blankets would be sanitised on a regular basis before being given for further use.

Though the directive is to wash the blankets every one or two months, a CAG report had recently highlighted the unhygienic condition of blankets which were not washed for even six months.

However, smelly blankets may soon become a thing of past on trains.

 The railways have roped in the National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFT) to design lightweight blankets with less wool content. A trial of ‘thin, cold washable blankets’ is also being carried out in the Central Railway zone as a pilot project.

“Our aim is to provide washed blankets along with fresh linen in trains for each journey,” said a senior Railway Ministry official in the housekeeping directorate who is involved in the task.

Currently about 3.90 lakh sets of linen are provided per day comprising two bedsheets, a towel, pillow and blanket for each passenger in AC classes.

The plan envisages increasing the frequencies of washing of blankets to begin with and replacing the existing ones with the newly designed lightweight blankets made of soft fabric in a phased manner, he said.

Railways have already started changing the cover of blankets in some sections while frequency of washing is being increased from monthly to fortnightly and weekly, said the official.

Railways had recently held a meeting on linen management which was attended by various stakeholders including mechanised laundry operators, suppliers of cleaning chemicals, linen suppliers and senior railway officers.

It was decided to implement the plan for improvement of linen management with aim of providing clean, hygienic and good quality linen to passengers travelling in AC classes.

Preparations are are being made to introduce lightweight blankets made of soft fabric and these will be washed after every use, the official said.

There are about 50 mechanised laundries operational at the moment and ten more will be opened shortly.