Indian Railways News

Cats On A Train! Japan Railway Lets Felines Roam To Raise Awareness Of Strays

A Japanese civic group teamed up with a railway operator on Sunday to let some 30 cats roam on a local train at an event, hoping it will raise awareness of the culling of stray cats.

Passengers on a local train in Ogaki, in central Japan, were greeted by meowing companions on a moving train, where some passengers mingled with the felines while others enjoyed lunch.

“I think it’s great more people are aware about stray kittens through events like this,” said Mikiko Hayashi, a passenger from western Japan, who owns two cats that were strays. The event was hosted by Yoro Railway Co Ltd and a non-governmental organisation called Kitten Cafe Sanctuary.

The number of cats in Japan admitted to shelters has dropped by around 70 percent to 72,624 in 2016 from 237,246 in 2004. That has reduced the number of cats culled from 238,929 in 2004 to 45,574 in 2016. The cat population in Japan is around 9.8 million.

PM Narendra Modi And Shinzo Abe To Lay Foundation Stone For Bullet Train Project On Thursday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will lay the foundation stone for the proposed Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail Network, commonly known as the bullet train, on September 14 in the Gujarat city, railway officials said today.

The bullet train, which has a capacity to accommodate 750 people, is expected to reduce travel time between the two cities from seven to three hours.

 A sum of around Rs. 1.10 lakh crore will be spent on the project that is being partially funded by Japan.

The target for its completion is December 2023, though officials say there are indications that the government may seek an earlier deadline of 2022.

The train will stop at each of the 12 railway stations on the route, but only for 165 seconds. A 21-km-long tunnel will be dug between Boisar and Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai, of which seven kilometers will be under water.

The entire line will be at an elevation of around 20 meters which will reduce land acquisition.

After the laying of the foundation stone, an investment summit will also be held between the Indian side and a Japanese delegation comprising representatives from Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

World Cup Star Harmanpreet Kaur Gets Promotion In Railway Job

Cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur, who hit a stunning 171 not out in the recent women’s cricket World Cup propelling India into the finals, has been promoted as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Western Railway. Kaur was serving as the chief office superintendent of the Western Railway (WR) in Mumbai since May 2014 and has now been promoted as OSD-Sports. “In recognition of her outstanding performance in the recently concluded ICC Women’s World Cup, the railway ministry has granted Kaur an out-of-turn promotion in gazetted rank group-B as Officer on Special Duty (OSD)-Sports in the Western Railway,” a senior spokesperson of WR said.

She was given the promotion on September 7, he said, adding that whenever railway players excel at the international level, they are felicitated and promoted.

Western Railway’s General Manager A K Gupta and Senior Deputy General Manager Raj Kumar Lal, who is also the president of Western Railway Sports Association, congratulated Kaur on her achievements and also on her promotion.

“She (Kaur) is an inspiration to all sports persons, especially women,” Gupta said.

Kaur, with her big hitting abilities, made her India debut against Pakistan in 2009.

The 28-year-old right-handed batter hit an unbeaten 171 off just 115 balls in the semi-final match to knock out the then reigning champions Australia from the tournament which was played in England in July. However, India lost the finals to England.

After her excellent performance, the then railway minister Suresh Prabhu had on July 27 announced a cash reward of Rs 1.30 crore for 10 members of the Indian women’s cricket team, employed with Indian Railways.

He also announced promotions for all members of the team, including for captain Mithali Raj to a gazetted officer rank.


Japanese firm Mitsui wins Bid for Supply of Rail Tracks for Ahmedabad Metro Rail project

Japanese firm Mitsui Co. Ltd. has won the bid to supply 10,600 metric tonne of Head Hardened Rails (HH-Rail) for the track work of the 37-km-long Phase-1 of the Ahmedabad metro-rail project at the cost of Rs 59.32 crore.

“Mitsui has been selected from a group of five bidders which included Voestalpine, Jindal Steel, British Steel, East Metals,” said IP Gautam, Managing Director of Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Ltd which is constructing the Rs.10,700 crore Phase-I of the project.

Mitsui is the first Japanese firm to win a bid out of the 27 contracts that have been awarded.

The tender notice for procurement of the HH-rail was published on July 8, 2016 and the tender was awarded on June 15.

According to metrorail officials, the 1,080 grade HH-rail being procured for Ahmedabad metro has greater durability than the normal rail of 880 grade. The use of 1,080 grade HH-rail will dispense frequent rail checks on main lines.

“We will be using the HH-rail only for laying the metro tracks, while normal rail will be used in the depots,” an official added. Two depots — one at Apparel Park on the East West Corridor and the other at Gyaspur on the North-South Corridor is being built.

TMS System can do much more than provide information if used optimally: says CR Officials

The Track Management System (TMS) is not just meant to give information, but also solutions. Central Railway (CR) officials conceded that this system is being inefficiently used. In times of a disaster such as the floods on August 29, TMS can ideally do a lot more.

The CR authorities agreed that despite spending crores of rupees on a software system meant to augment the overall operations of smooth functioning of trains, the system was only providing updates on movement of trains. The main objective of TMS is to maximise the benefits of material, equipment and manpower inputs made to track and to optimise the life and utilisation of assets without impairing the safety and passenger comfort by ensuring the optimum standards of track geometry by web enabling the existing manual system of track inspection.

On September 1, it was reported how the CR’s TMS software failed to live up to their expectations on August 29, when the city’s suburban rail network was paralysed due to heavy rains.

Sources said that this system can do miracles if used to its optimum and if it is upgraded. TMS Application is used for Asset Management, Rail & Weld Fracture, Track Monitoring by Machines, Maintenance by Machines & USFD Testing, Engineering Control-Caution Orders and Traffic Blocks, Track Renewal & Deep screening, Ballast Supply and Insertion, Patrolling & Accidents Reporting. “It can identify and automatically inform the shortest alternative routes, diversions during rail accidents immediately, plan rail timetable where services can be used efficiently and even allow communication between all motormen/guard plying in times of disaster,” said a CR official.

The officials said that a few months ago they had also discussed the need to upgrade their TMS, but it was ditched on the grounds that it would incur additional cost. A whopping Rs 32 crore has been spent on installing this TMS.

Hardware/System Software Infrastructure is built over IBM Power Systems for RISC Architecture, SAN, Tivoli Back Solution, Tivoli Directory Server, WebSphere Application Server, DB2 database, Edge Component, WebServer, Lotus Expeditor, Lotus Mobile Connect. 2340 number of Netbooks has been delivered in 28 IR divisions for TMS application by CRIS. The Disaster Recovery Site has been set up at IRICEN Pune for recovery of data in case of disaster which is an important feature in TMS. Currently TMS has been implemented on entire Indian Railways.

On August 29, TMS proved to be of little use as the control room could not even inform the motormen and guards about the status of stranded trains carrying thousands of commuters.

The CR installed the TMS at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) to monitor and keep an eye on train-running in the suburban section.

Railway Contractors withdraw Strike against imposition of GST (on project contracts awarded prior to July 1)

Major capacity addition rail projects like the Chennai-Korukkupet quadrupling, Sengottai-Punalur doubling and other engineering works across Tamil Nadu and the rest of the country will now resume on Monday after a gap of two weeks as railway contractors have withdrawn their strike against imposition of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on project contracts awarded before July 1.

This came after the Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani wrote to the Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa on September 1, requesting a one-time exemption for dealing with the impact of GST on project contracts awarded prior to implementation of the new taxation policy.

The contractors were at loggerheads with the Ministry of Railways as from July 1, they had to pay 12-18% GST for contracts awarded before the new tax came into effect. This had decreased margins for the contractors as they would have to execute projects at a loss as earlier the tax was only between 1-4%. Contractors estimated that works to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore were stalled across the country. Payments have been stalled since July 1, top railway officials said.

Lohani has asked for an early resolution to the issue to smoothly carry out the projects.

The request to grant the one-time exemption was keeping in view the principles of natural justice, fairness and reasonableness on part of the government, Lohani said in the letter. The impact of GST was unforeseen and the exemption was needed to get work done through existing contracts.

Lohani stated that the enhanced liability due to GST should either be borne by the railways or contracts should be closed without financial implications on either side. “A committee of three chief administrative officers has unanimously recommended that any extra tax liability in existing works contracts on account of GST should be borne by the railways on receipt of documents from contractors so that targets may be met,” the letter said.

A senior Southern Railway official said that though work would start from today, there was no clarity on the percentage of tax to be deducted. “An order from the Finance Ministry is expected soon,” the official said.

Output is likely to Increase after Completion of the Tori-Shivpur Rail Project: interim MD/CIL

NEW DELHI: India is not facing any scarcity of coal and the output of Coal India Ltd (CIL) is more than the country’s power demand, the mining behemoth’s interim Chairman and Managing Director Gopal Singh said today.

Singh said the miner registered a high growth rate of 28 per cent output in FY17 over the last fiscal, while the average rise in power demand in the country was at 10.3 per cent. Coal India is fully capable to fulfil the coal demand in India, he said, adding the company has plans to open new mines in the future.

Singh, who is the head of Central Coalfields Ltd, was given the additional charge of CMD of Coal India on September 1, following the retirement of Coal India on September 1, following the retirement of Sutirtha Bhattacharya.

He also made it clear that there would be no privatisation of the state-owned mining major. Talking about the Magadh coal mine in Jharkhand, which is the biggest open caste mine in Asia, Singh said that coal output in the mine has been reduced due to dispatch-related problems.

The output is likely to increase after completion of the miner’s Tori-Shivpur rail project, he said. Singh greeted Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, who was today

CRS slams Railways for Security Lapses

As the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) found the existing system in probing accidents to be insufficient, the World Bank has recommended for an independent rail safety regulatory and investigator to be set up, for averting accidents. Taking serious note of the sudden spate of tragedies on tracks – in which Railways admitted that 66 of 105 serious rail accidents were caused due to lapses by its staff – the 73-year-old international financial institution has also asked for creating a dedicated safety management system under the railway board chairman for reinforcing the prevailing accident prevention measures.

In its detailed report prepared after a comprehensive study, the World Bank had also asked for creating an independent safety regulator and investigator as per the international practice, to fix responsibility and take preventive measures to curb mishaps. Also keeping stock of the poor maintenance of tracks – a major cause of the train accidents, the report also stressed upon the need for reviewing the timetables of the trains for timely maintenance of the tracks.

It has also suggested for acceleration in the community engagement programmes, to minimise pedestrian accidents by addressing human and other factors contributing to the unsafe behaviour. Since mishaps at unmanned level crossings are one of the major reasons for train accidents in India, the Railways had already undertaken steps to eliminate all such crossings by 2020 as part its ‘zero accident mission’. The report had further sought for the need to develop a safety culture across the network.

Outlining the full support of the staff as the need of the hour to tackle and avert any possibility of an accident, the report said that without their wholehearted support, implementation of any policy or plan would remain a mirage. It may be noted that at present, with a limited power and span of control, the CRS had been assigned to probe all the railway accidents in the country, despite the fact that CRS falls under the administrative control of the civil aviation ministry

Interestingly, CSR’s probe and findings had little role to question the rail operations as the Railway’s departmental inquiries after any accident have the final say in it. It may be recalled that former railway minister Suresh Prabhu, in April 2017, had hinted at outsourcing various international agencies for outlining safety measures.

The World Bank had also sought for modern equipment to detect rail fracture and paint of locomotives in bright yellow colour on the front to improve their visibility, particularly during the twilight times in the day. It has also asked to establish an emergency response plan to address derailments and fires.

Working on improving Image Perception: CRB Ashwani Lohani

The newly-appointed Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani today said that the Indian Railways is working to improve “image perception” regarding safety.

Lohani was in Ahmedabad to inspect development works including Sabarmati railway station ungradation, Ahmedabad-Mumbai high speed rail project, among others.

The Rail Board chairman further added that the entire railway system was strong.

“Entire Railways system is strong, fortified, and our processes are strong. If you see safety records from across the country, for 2017-18, overall cases of safety breach have gone down.

“But image perception is also important. There should be right image perception. We are creating awareness among staff, inspections are being carried out and shortcomings being detected and addressed. We are taking all measures that need to be taken for that,” Lohani told reporters.

“It is very clear that safety remains our priority. We have taken all steps, and will continue to do so to ensure that our passengers get safe journey and railway safety system remains strong,” he further said.

Asked about the reason behind the recent train accidents in Uttar Pradesh, Lohani said inquiry was on in the matter and reasons will be out only after inquiry is completed.

“It won’t be right to speculate, because inquiry is going on in that. Reasons will be out only after inquiry is completed,” he said.

Lohani also said that the Indian Railways is serious about cleanliness and hygiene in terms of food being served to the passengers.

“We are serious about cleanliness, hygiene. Food has to be good, even though it is simple,” he said.

“Safety, cleanliness, and growth are our focus. We want it to be a big contributor to economy in freight carriage,” Lohani said.

BRICS Member States Express Interest in Eurasia High-Speed Railway

The Russian Direct Investment Fund’s (RDIF) CEO Kirill Dmitriev has noticed that the Eurasia high-speed railway (HSR) is drawing interest among foreign investors at the BRICS summit. However, RDIF had not yet decided on entering the project.

“We discussed the Eurasia high-speed railway project with partners on the sidelines of the [BRICS] summit. We are now looking at it more actively, and see that RZhD [Russian Railways] already has significant progress on the model which shows more interesting yield now. Moreover, it has raised investors’ interest. Cargo transportation through Russian territory is also among its’ main fuctions. The project has prospects to be realized,” Dmitriev said on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in the Russian city of Vladivostok.

According to Dmitriev, Russia is positioned correctly within the framework of this project — as a logistical corridor between China and Europe.

The Eurasia project is supposed to bridge the railway network of the China Railway Corporation with the Euro Carex, a high-speed freight network. The track will be almost 10,000 kilometers (around 6,200 miles) in length, and speeds on railway are set to reach up to 300 kilometers per hour. The project is scheduled to be finished by 2035.

Moreover, the transcontinental high-speed railroad project might be co-funded by the Russian Railways, Russian Direct Investment Fund, China’s Silk Road Fund, BRICS’ New Development Bank, the Eurasian Development Bank and the Russia-China Investment Fund.