Indian Railways News

Suresh Prabhu To Inaugurate Science Express Exhibition Train Tomorrow

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will inaugurate the Science Express Climate Action Special — Exhibition Train through video conferencing from New Delhi tomorrow.

The exhibition train will be at Roha railway station tomorrow for a day, said a senior railway official.

It will be on the display at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), here from July 19-22, said the official.

The train will be stationed at CSMT on platform number 10 and will be open to public from 10 am to 5 pm.

This Science exhibition train is an innovative mobile science exhibition train mounted on a 16 coach AC train, travelling across India since October 2007.

Since then, it has made eight tours of the country, travelling about 1,56,000 km and exhibiting at 507 locations in its over 1,746 exhibition days and 1.68 crore visitors have visited it so far.

“Science Express has become the largest, the longest running and the most visited mobile science exhibition and has twelve entries in the Limca Book of Records,” an official added.

The ninth edition of the Science Express Climate Action tour is scheduled this year from February 17 to September 8, during which it will be exhibited at 68 stations across the country, a release issued by the CR said.

 The current, ninth phase of the Science Express was flagged off on February 17, 2017 from Delhi’s Safdarjung railway station.

Land acquisition for Indo-Bangla Rail project begins in Tripura

State Government of Tripura has issued a notification for acquisition of land for the proposed Indo-Bangla railway project, official sources said here on Friday.

“As per preliminary reports, altogether 257 land owners are supposed to get compensation against the land acquisition”, said an official of District Magistrate (DM), West Tripura office. The entire process is scheduled to be completed by August 15.

The Centre has already released Rs 97.63 crore for land acquisition for the proposed rail project connecting Agartala railway station to Bangladesh’s Gangasagar station.

Reports from across the border indicate, land acquisition process has already begun in Bangladesh side. Of the total 15-km length railway project, around 10 km rail track will fall in Bangladesh side while remaining part falls in Indian side.

In Indian side, a major portion will be elevated corridor to save land and this has reduced the land acquisition process for the railway project.

The IRCON has been tasked to execute the 15 km ambitious project amounting to Rs 967.85 crore. IRCON is expected to start the work at the earliest.

IRCTC Tatkal Railway Booking Rules, Timings, Cancellation Charges

IRCTC through its website offers online Tatkal reservation facility for the benefit of passengers. Tatkal facility helps passengers plan their journey at the last moment. Under the Tatkal online booking facility, customers can go to IRCTC website and book tickets on ‘first come first served’ basis by paying Tatkal charges. After reports on social media and some websites that Tatkal booking and cancellation rules will change from July 1, 2017, Indian Railways has issued a clarification, saying that there has been no changes. “It has been noticed that a news item is in circulation in various social media platforms, WhatsApp groups, and some websites which mentions that Indian Railways is introducing several changes and new facilities with effect from 1st July, 2017. This news is totally incorrect and baseless,” the Railways said in a statement on June 30.

In this context, the Railways also reiterated the existing Tatkal reservation and cancellation rules.

 The booking timings for Tatkal tickets were changed in 2015 with booking for AC classes opening at 10:00 AM and for Non-AC classes at 11:00 AM (one day in advance of actual date of journey excluding date of journey). There has no change in these timings and the same arrangement is continuing, the Railways said.

Again, there is no change in the refund rules of Tatkal tickets, the Railways said. Under the existing rule, no refund is granted on cancellation of confirmed Tatkal tickets/duplicate Tatkal tickets. This rule continues to be in operation.

Here are other things to know about the Tatkal reservation rules:

A maximum of four passengers per PNR can be booked on Tatkal e-tickets.

Tatkal charges per passenger are in addition to normal tickets.

Premium Tatkal Facility: From October 2014, in select trains, a premium tatkal facility was introduced and tickets are sold on dynamic pricing. Fares go up depending on percentage of berths sold subject to a maximum cap.

No concession is allowed in Tatkal booking.

Modification of ticket in any form is not permitted in Tatkal ticket.

The Tatkal charges have been fixed as a percentage of fare at the rate of 10 per cent of basic fare for second class and 30 per cent of basic fare for all other classes subject to minimum and maximum as given here below, according to the IRCTC website.

Class of travel Minimum Tatkal charges (in Rs.) Maximum Tatkal charges (in Rs.) Minimum distance for charge (in km)
Second (sitting) 10 15 100
Sleeper 100 200 500
AC Chair Car 125 225 250
AC 3 Tier 300 400 500
AC 2 Tier 400 500 500
Executive 400 500 250

 

 

Government Working To Transform Railways Into Real Engine Of Growth: Suresh Prabhu

The government is working to transform the railways into a “real engine of growth”, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Saturday, stressing that managing the transporter was complex.

Speaking at the silver jubilee function of Symbiosis Institute of International Business (SIIB), Mr Prabhu said a lot of people give advice on railways.

“Some say, why are you not making a profit out of the railways. Another person will complain of charging so much. Somebody will ask why the food is not as good as the food we get in five-star hotels and at the same time, the next person will ask why are you charging Rs. 100 for a meal,” he said.

“If there is any educational institute, which is going to teach how to manage the railways, it should really be qualified to get a Noble Prize, because managing the railways is so complex,” quipped Mr Prabhu.

The minister said there is always a comparison of the Indian Railways with the Chinese and Japanese railways.

“We can do better than them, provided we do everything, Chinese and Japanese did 30-40 years ago. China invested 140 billion dollars year after year,” he said.

 Mr Prabhu said the Modi government has stepped up investment in the railways.

Railway Bridge Washed Away In Odisha Flash Floods, Government Seeks Army’s Help

Heavy rains swelled two major rivers causing flash floods in Odisha’s Rayagada district, prompting the state government to seek the help of defence forces, as four IAF choppers were pressed into service for relief and rescue operations, government officials today said. A railway bridge was also washed away affecting connectivity.

The flash floods resulted from an alarming rise in the water levels in the Nagavalli and the Kalyani rivers.

Four Mi-17 V5 helicopters of IAF have been tasked for the relief and rescue operations. The choppers, detached for OpTriveni under the Central Air Command, based at Raipur/Jagdalpur, were on a standby awaiting weather clearance.

“As it is not possible to rescue the people through boat and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, the assistance of Indian Air Force is required for the rescue operation and airdrop of relief material in the affected areas of Rayagada district. Four helicopters have been requisitioned,” said a defence official.

Several areas in adjoining Kalahandi district were also severely affected by the floods caused by incessant rains, disrupting road and rail communications, they said.

“There are flash floods in Kalyansinghpur of Rayagada caused by the rivers Nagavalli and Kalyani,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said after reviewing the flood situation at an emergency meeting held at the office of the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC).

Stating that the state control room in the SRC office is tracking the situation, Mr Patnaik said the ODRAF, fire service and CRPF were on the spot for undertaking rescue and relief.

The help of the Army, Navy and Air Force helicopters is sought and instructions have been issued to take all immediate steps to ensure relief and rescue and other mitigation measures, he said.

“No effort will be spared to ensure the safety of the people,” the chief minister said.

While the district collector is also in the charge of the situation, the development commissioner has been directed to coordinate with all the departments. The revenue divisional commissioner (southern division) and Range DIG have been instructed to closely monitor the situation, he said.

Noting that inclement weather persisted in the flood affected areas at present, Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan said IAF choppers would be pressed into service when weather conditions improved to ensure safe landing.

Helicopters would be used for rescuing a large number of people trapped on rooftops as their houses had been submerged by flood water besides dropping food packets and relief materials, said an official.

SRC Bishnupad Sethi said the concerned officials had already been alerted on the basis of forecasts by the IMD about heavy rainfall in the northern region.

He said two bridges had been washed away causing disruption of road connections, while a railway bridge was also damaged disrupting train services.

A road link between Rayagada and Bhawanipatna has been snapped as flood water is flowing on a major road.

Indian Railways to harness the Power of Cloud Computing in a big way

In a significant IT initiative, the Indian Railways today launched RailCloud – a virtual server with an inbuilt security system to optimise server usage and faster connectivity.

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu launched the RailCloud Project in the august presence of Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain. Member Staff, A.K.Mital, other Railway Board Members and senior officials who were all present to grace the occasion.

Ministry of Railways has launched the RailCloud project in association with its Telecom PSU, RailTel Corporation of India Limited.

Cloud computing is the emerging technology for faster and on-demand commensurate deployment of server resources which result in reduced costs.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said, “Efforts are being made to bring entire Railway system on Integrated Digital Platform. RailCloud is another step towards Digitization of Railways. RailCloud works on popular Cloud Computing system. Most Important works are done through Cloud Computing. Also, this is going to reduce the cost & data may be safely ensured on the servers.

Salient Features of the RailCloud

Indian Railway has started a strategic IT initiative, christened IR-OneICT, for enterprise wide digital single platform with an aim to improve customer satisfaction, improve revenue and effective, efficient and safe operations. To achieve the goal of single digital platform for IR a few foundational projects need to be implemented first, establishment of RailCloud is one such project.  Cloud Computing is the emerging technology for faster and on demand commensurate deployment of Server resources which result in reduced cost. Accordingly, RailCloud Phase-I has been sanctioned at the cost of Rs.53.55 Crore under PH-17, DF(3) in FY 17-18. Potential benefits to Railways after implementation of RailCloud are:

  • Faster and on-demand deployment of application- RailCloud will pave the way for swifter deployment of application (within 24 hrs as compared to conventional time running into weeks and months). At the same time the cloud hardware and environment will be available for rigorous testing of the new applications.
  • Optimum use of Servers and storage- The technology enables maximising the usage of the available server and storage resulting in accommodation of bigger data and more applications within same server space.
  • Utilization of existing infrastructure as part of Cloud- The existing resources available with railway will be subsumed in RailCloud thereby ensuring that expenditure is minimized in acquiring new resources.
  • Rapid scalability and elasticity- Server and storage space will scale up and down as per the demand. This makes the system suitable to meet the higher demand at peak hours with less expenditure.
  • IT Security enhancement and Standardization: The cloud shall be equipped with security features as per the latest GOI guidelines, the security features can be updated in one go for all the applications hosted on the cloud, resulting in enhanced security and stability with less expenditure and effort.
  • Cost reduction: The server and storage infrastructure will be deployed as per the requirement, resulting in substantial savings to railway as expenditure will be incurred as and when required instead of upfront shelling out money on procurement of expensive servers.
  • Better User Experience: In Cloud, the server resources are constantly scaled up or down as per the no. of users logged on to the system. This ensures a better user experience to the customer.

The Managed Network and Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) services are also being planned, in near future, for providing faster and more efficient work environment to each rail worker.

NIVARAN – a Grievance Portal launched on RailCloud (first IT Application)

‘NIVARAN-Grievance Portal’ is the first IT application to be launched on the RailCloud. It is the platform for resolution of service related grievances of serving and former railway employees. The existing application was hosted on a conventional server; it has been made cloud-ready and being migrated as the first cloud application of Indian Railways. It will save significant revenue and at the same time user experience will also improve.

Now, holding up trains is ‘anti-national’, according to Railways

Calling their act “anti-national,” the Pune division of the Central Railways on Wednesday initiated action against passengers who had held up the Deccan Queen at the Pune Railway Station for about an hour on Monday. The commuters had stopped the train from leaving, to demand that the railway administration change its departure location to platform no. 1, as has been the case for decades. Earlier this year, the train started departing from platform no. 5.

In a press release on Wednesday, Pune Divisional Railway Manager B K Dadabhoy said, “Such anti-national activities will not be tolerated at any cost and appropriate legal action will be taken.”

Dadabhoy could not be reached for comment despite several attempts. Nearly 100 passengers, most of them daily commuters to Mumbai, had staged an hour-long protest against the railway administration’s decision to shift the train to another platform. They had said that it was inconveneinet for them to go all the way to platform no. 5 to catch the train.

The railway administration had responded by saying that long-distance trains with 24 coaches had to be accommodated on platform no. 1. The press statement also mentioned that the railway police have registered a case against three women under Section 174 (A) of the Railways Act. The women were produced before a railway magistrate, and a fine was imposed on all of them.

Indian Railways embarks on a multi-pronged plan to boost revenues

Keen to stand on its own feet and produce decent investible surpluses, Indian Railways has embarked on a multi-pronged plan to boost revenues. While the heavily subsidised passenger segment will see creeping tariff hikes from September under a diktat from the Prime Minister’s Office, the transporter has also lined up a slew of long-term freight contracts with large customers like cement and steel firms. Worried over the stagnant growth in freight loading — in FY17, the loading actually declined an annual 0.6% — and the loss of consumers to roads and airlines, the railways thinks that contracts of three years or more will help create a loyal base of large freight users.

While some long-term freight contracts will be signed on Thursday, a clutch of steps taken in recent months like launch of “time-tabled” freight trains and double-decked dwarf containers, waiver of port congestion charges and dual tariff policy for iron ore are also expected to boost loading and freight revenue.

According to official sources, the three-year freight contracts will provide for fixed rates for the contract period, which will be topped with discounts from the second year onwards if loading levels are retained. The discounts on incremental traffic may go up to 35%.

“Two cement manufacturers and one steel firm have already come on board and another 10 are in the pipeline (for signing the long-term contracts). The deals are getting finalised across different zones,” said a top railway official, requesting not to be identified.

Despite a 0.4% drop in industrial production and 8.7% contraction in cement output in December, mostly on the back of demonetisation, the railways’ freight loading has shown an encouraging trend since January. During the first quarter of the current fiscal, the railways revenue from freight has increased 12% compared with the same period last year.

The freight loading target for the current fiscal is 1,165 million tonnes (mt) against 1,094 mt last year. The railways’ operating ratio had worsened to 95 in FY17 from 90.5 in FY16. Mindful of the market realities, the OR target set for the current year is almost the same as last year’s.
Earnings from freight are estimated to contribute 62% of the transporter’s gross traffic receipts in FY18, against 66% in FY16, in what reflects the gradual roll-back of subsidies in the passenger segment. All segments on the passenger side except the air-conditioned 3-tier category are still making losses.

The signing of the long-term freight contracts comes at a time when the PMO has asked the carrier to redirect 20 mt of freight traffic from roads to the railways by the end of this financial year. “We have to provide a very competitive transportation system vis-a-vis the roads which is also witnessing huge investments. The average parcel size is decreasing, which make them suitable for transport by road. Definitely there are challenges and that is why we have tried many alternatives such as time-tabled freight trains to attract traffic,” added the official quoted above.
The railways has been constantly losing freight traffic to roads; the transporter’s share in freight volume has fallen from around 90% in 1950 to just 30% at present.

 

Railways Launches ‘SAARTHI’ App, Solar Train: 10 Things To Know

Here are the key things to know:
  1. Users now don’t need to download multiple railway apps as the new SAARTHI app will allow them to perform various functions.
  2. They can also book air ticket through the app. Mr Prabhu also announced a quota facility for differently-abled people in 3AC coach and extending the advance booking period for foreigners to 365 days from present 120 days.
  3. A lower berth in a 3AC coach will be reserved for physically-challenged people and the middle for the individual accompanying them. But, there will be only one such berth in the 3AC coach of a train.
  4. The quota provision which was only in the sleeper class (2 berths) has now been extended to the 3AC as well.
  5. While booking tickets through the app, users can also share their feedback.
  6. In a move to promote the use of cleaner fuels while launching the first solar powered DEMU train, Mr Prabhu said, “Indian Railways is trying to increase use of non-conventional sources of energy.”
  7. “First rake has been commissioned and based at Shakurbasti DEMU shed in Delhi of Northern Railway. Twenty-four more coaches will be fitted with this system within the next six months,” the ministry said in a statement.
  8. According to the ministry’s estimates, a solar-powered train with six trailer-coaches has the potential to save about 21,000 litres of diesel and thereby effect a cost saving of Rs. 12 lakh every year.
  9. The entire electrical needs of the train are fulfilled by power produced from solar panels fitted on the roof of coaches.

 

Fresh Violence In Darjeeling, Police Post, Library Set On Fire

A Railway Protection Force (RPF) office, a police outpost and a state-run library were set on fire in the Darjeeling hills as the indefinite strike demanding a separate state entered its 30th day today, police said. As unrest simmered, internet services remained suspended for the 27th day.

The RPF office in Kurseong and a police outpost in Sukhiapokhri were set afire in the early hours of the morning while the state-run library in Mirik sub-division was reduced to ashes by pro-Gorkhaland supporters last night, a police official said.

The Army continues to be deployed in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sonada. The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) decided to postpone its fast unto death from July 15 due to the upcoming Presidential elections.

“We have decided to postpone the fast unto death as Presidential elections are nearby. We’ll take a call on it at our next all-party meeting on July 18,” a GMCC member told PTI.

The 30-member GMCC represents all hill based parties, including the GJM, the GNLF and the JAP.

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