Indian Railways News

SAIL supplies 6.2 Lakh Tonnes of Rails in FY17 to Indian Railways

Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has supplied 6.20 lakh tonnes of rails to the Indian Railways in 2016-17, Parliament was informed today.

“Initially for 2016-17, Railway Board placed a bulk indent on SAIL for supply of 6,24,516 tonnes of rails, which was met by SAIL and it supplied 6,20,049 tonnes of rails during 2016-17 to Indian Railways,” Minister of State for Steel Vishnu Deo Sai said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

“However, the enhanced requirement of Railways i.e; supply of 8.2 lakh tonnes of rails during the year could not be met due to capacity constraints,” the minister informed.

But, with the ramping up of the new 1.2 million tonne Universal Rail Mill at Bhilai Steel Plant, SAIL has now capacity to meet additional demand of Indian Railways, he added.

Sai further said: “The cumulative expenditure incurred by SAIL towards modernisation and expansion, mines and related sustenance schemes, till June 2017 is Rs 65,822 crore.” In a separate reply, the minister said, “SAIL has carried out modernisation and expansion programme at all the five major plants viz Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Bokaro (Jharkhand), Rourkela (Odisha), Durgapur and Burnpur (West Bengal) and special steel plant at Salem (Tamil Nadu).” However, the Salem Steel Plant in Tamil Nadu, despite investment of Rs 1,902 crore has been incurring losses, he added.

IRSDC and Govt of Gujarat forms SPV for development of Gandhinagar Railway Station

A special purpose vehicle (SPV) has been formed by Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd. (IRSDC) with Government of Gujarat (GoG) with equity contribution as 24% that of IRSDC and 76% of GoG. The SPV is developing Gandhinagar station having architecture in harmony with adjoining Mahatma Mandir and Gandhi Kuteer. The SPV shall be responsible for operation & maintenance of station, hotel and will have revenue streams from Mahatma Mandir and Gandhi Kuteer as well.

A works contract for approximately ₹147 Crore for redevelopment of Gandhinagar station along with construction of a 300 room-hotel on the air space of the station has been awarded and ground-breaking done. Pile foundation is going on at site. Also, agreement for Project Management Consultant (PMC) has been signed between Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) and Gandhinagar Railway and Urban Development Corporation Limited (GARUD) on 14.07.2017. A work of cost ₹ 243.6 Crore is sanctioned by Railway for this and ₹ 40 Crore have been allocated this year.

This Press Release is based on the information given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 26.07.2017 (Wednesday).

IRCTC to take over Catering Services in all Trains by year end

Catering services in all trains with pantry cars will be handed over to IRCTC by the year-end in order to improve onboard food quality, according to Railways.

Besides passengers in seven Rajdhani and six Shatabdi trains will have an option for e-catering facility.

IRCTC will be given responsibility of managing catering services in all trains with pantry cars be December end, Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed said here today.

Till now, the zonal railways were managing catering services in majority trains as per the catering policy 2010.

There are about 350 trains including Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto which are equipped with pantry cars.

With a view to improve catering services at rail premises, Railways will also conduct third party audit at pantry cars, base kitchens and food stalls to ensure best practice.

“We have hired two reputed companies to do the third party audits at food stalls and pantry cars,” Jamshed said.

Railways has also undertaken a three-week drive to inspect food quality and hygienic condition at base kitchens.

The Railways formulated catering policy in 2005 and according to the policy, IRCTC, the tourism and catering wing of the Railways, was given catering responsibility for all trains.

In 2010, the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced the policy in which catering responsibility was taken away from the IRCTC and zonal railways were asked to look food services.

However, since complaints against food quality were increasing constantly, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu decided to go for a new catering policy aiming to improve food services at rail premises.

The new catering policy was announced in February under which IRCTC was given catering responsibility with stringent guidelines.

The new policy envisages separation of cooking and distribution of food.

Jamshed said now options have been given to passengers in a few Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto trains to opt out of the catering services while booking tickets.

Catering services are mandatory in premier services like Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains and the catering cost is included in the ticket.

Seeking to explore the possibility of making mandatory catering services optional on trains, Railways had earlier announced in June last year to undertake the scheme on Nizamuddin-Mumbai August Kranti Rajdhani Express and Pune- Secunderabad Shatabdi Express.

Passengers have to specifically opt out from the mandatory food option and catering charges will be excluded from the ticket fare.

Catering charges ranging from Rs 175 to Rs 340 will be deducted from the total fare if the passenger opts out from the mandatory food options.

Dead Lizard In Veg Biryani Served On Train, Passenger Tweets Railways Minister

Just days after an auditor’s report submitted in parliament said food on trains in India is unfit for human consumption, passengers on a train in Uttar Pradesh have been served proof. A dead lizard was found in a meal on the Poorva Express on Tuesday.

A group of pilgrims travelling from Jharkhand to Uttar Pradesh spotted the disgusting “garnish” in veg biryani when the train was near Patna. One person fell ill. Alerted to the fact, a staffer simply threw the meal out of the train. When a complaint to the ticket examiner and the pantry car attendant drew no apparent response, the passengers tweeted to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

The impact of the tweet was that when the train rolled into the Mughalsarai station in UP, several senior officers came and medicines were given to passengers taken ill.

Kishore Kumar, a senior railway officer at Mughalsarai, said the biggest concern was passengers’ health. “Before the train arrived here, doctors inquired about their health and also prescribed medicine. We will investigate and take strong action,” said Mr Kumar.

 He said a report would be given to the ministry.
 Last week, a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) flagged that the food served on trains is unfit for human consumption at some places, cooked in polluted water and in most unhygienic conditions.

After an assessment of 74 railway stations and 80 trains across the country, the auditor said the food was stale at many places; dirty tap water was used to cook food; food wasn’t covered to protect it from dust and flies, and cockroaches and mice were found on trains.

Mr Kumar said: “We took the CAG report as feedback and we are taking strict measures to enhance our service.”


Indian Railways Station Redevelopment Scheme to offer over 144 Acres of Land to Developers

The Indian Railways, under its massive station redevelopment programme, is set to offer more than 144 acres of land with its 23 stations for commercial development. The developers would be selected via competitive bidding, marking the first phase of the scheme under which surplus/vacant land with over 400 stations are to be redeveloped. As many as 18 of the 23 projects will come go under the hammer in the current financial year. “The tenders will be opened gradually over July onwards which will be finalised by April-May 2018,” said a railway official requesting not to be named.

While there are some stations that will offer as little as 1.6 acres (Chennai Central) for commercial redevelopment, there are others including Yesvantpur (20 acres), Udaipur City (10.7 acres) and Howrah (10 acres) that will offer huge plots for commercial use. Large infrastructure companies such as Tata Realty and Infrastructure, GMR, Essel Infra, IL&FS and a few Malaysian companies are actively looking to participate in the programme and some of them are already working on-ground to prepare bids. Last week, the secretary general (works), government of Malaysia, Dato Sri Zohari Haji Akob — who is also the nodal officer for projects investment in India — led a delegation along with the Malaysian high commissioner in India and held a meeting with railway officials regarding station redevelopment.

The meeting was to reinforce the commitment of the government of Malaysia to ensure a visible participation of experienced Malaysian developers in railway station redevelopment projects to enhance bilateral trade and stronger cooperation on both sides for sustainable infrastructure development.

According to the official quoted above, all 25 tenders (23 being planned plus Anand Vihar and Brijwasan which have been delayed due to land issues), would be opened by September. While work on the Habibganj and Gandhinagar projects has already started, the Indian Railways awarded the contract for Jammu Tawi railway station last week and that for Kozhikode has been just awarded. In addition, the request for proposal for Surat railway station is expected to be floated within a week.

In terms of stations that will be redeveloped, a total of 2,700 acre will be reconstructed for the 400 stations that have been identified and more than 200 acres will be redeveloped in the first phase comprising 23 stations. Under the scheme, a developer needs to create a concept proposal which takes six-eight weeks and an investment of Rs 1.5-2 crore.

For stations receiving multiple bids, one will be chosen taking into account technical as well financial proposals under the Swiss challenge method. There are two railway committees which will evaluate proposals which will be evaluated on a scale of 100. Separately, an independent committee will look at the scores given to each proposal. Subsequently, the general managers of the zone concerned will look at the recommendations of all the three committees and select one concept for DPR purpose.

“Even if no developers comes in at the challenge stage, the railways will be at least be assured of the premium mentioned in the DPR,” added the official. The railways is expecting that the total cost of commercial development for 400 stations will be Rs 68,000 crore while that for station redevelopment will be Rs 28,000 crore, and in addition it is likely to get Rs 11,000 crore as premium.


Railways ready to give its Land for Metro Station at Cantonment in Bangalore

Opposition to the location of Namma Metro’s Cantonment station in a playground used by Abdul Bari’s High School, instead of near the Cantonment Railway Station itself, is likely to increase in the coming days with the Railways on Monday clarifying that they had no problems with allocating land to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL).

BMRCL had last week published the alignment for the underground section of Reach 6 in Phase II, which had the new location of the Cantonment station within the playground at a distance of almost 1 kilometer from the entrance of the Cantonment Railway Station. At the time, BMRCL had justified the move by stating that land acquisition would be easier.

With the new station located around 250 meters from the end of the railway platform, BMRCL officials had said that they would ensure that easy connectivity was not affected. However, the move still earned the ire of several commuters and groups who said that the station location must not change.

The clarification issued by railways on Monday showed that the South Western Railway had been asked in May 2017 for 16,000 Sq Mtrs of land for a period of four years and permanent licensing of 2500 sq meters near the railway station. “In this connection joint site survey has been proposed in order to identify the exact requirement of land, possibility of its sparing and taking up process for transfer of land there after. The issue is under discussion and will be finalized after feasibility study and mutual dialogue between South Western Railway and BMRCL,” a statement by Indian Railways said.

According to the railways, it was open to considering any proposal of sparing land for BMRCL to facilitate metro work in a way to make it beneficial to everybody.

GST to raise Metro Rail construction cost of Kolkata’s East-West Metro

The Goods and Services Tax (GST), which subsumed all indirect taxes and was implemented from July one this year, is likely to raise the construction cost of East-West Metro being constructed by Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC). KMRC Managing Director, Satish Kumar said “GST will definitely raise the construction cost. But the exact amount of the rise is yet to be ascertained.”

Briefing reporters in Kolkata on Saturday, he said that tunneling work under Brabourne Road in the city has been completed and work on the Esplanade station already started. There will be five levels at Esplanade station and function as a confluence of the three metro railways – the East-West Metro, North-South Metro and the Joka-BBD Bag Metro.

Work on the Mahakaran metro station will start soon, he said, adding that the first phase of the project from Salt Lake to Phool Bagan have been targetted to go operational from June 2018. Kumar said that entire stretch from Howrah Maidan to Salt Lake was expected to be operational from December 2020.

Efforts have been made to keep settlement of the soil within 30 mm which, according to him, would not do much damage to the buildings falling on the tunneled route.

Once the construction was complete, the operations of the East-West metro would be transferred to the North-South Metro authorities. Total cost of the 16.55-km project had been pegged at Rs 4874 crore so far, he added.

ECR RPF cracked 62 cases of Encroachment on Railway property

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) under the East Central Railway (ECR) has cracked 62 cases of encroachment of railway property in June and arrested 38 people in this connection.

Stolen railway items worth Rs 97,970 was recovered during an intensive drive launched during June, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) Rajesh Kumar said in a statement today.

ECR comprises Danapur, Sonepur, Samastipur, Mughalsarai, Hajipur and Dhanbad divisions.

The CPRO said seven reservation agents were caught during the period and a total of 124 children either missing or victims of human trafficking were saved and handed over to their families.

He further said on June 3, cosmetics worth Rs 3.45 lakh smuggled from Nepal were seized at Muzaffarpur.

On June 14, a man was caught at Gaya illegally carrying 3.9 kg silver in Train number 12321, the CPRO said.

Molinari Rail to set up manufacturing unit in India

Swiss major, Molinari Rail will set up a manufacturing and assembly centre for auxiliary power units for diesel locomotives in India by next year.

Molinari Rail AG has entered into a strategic pact to design, manufacture and deliver the auxiliary power units (APUs) for 1,000 diesel locomotives to be built in India for Indian Railways.

“We have a project for Indian Railways and we will manufacture and assemble auxiliary power units here in India for the 1,000 diesel locomotive programme.

“With this component we are contributing highly to greener rail operations in India. By this, Molinari Rail is following the ‘Make in India’ strategy of creating new jobs and local expertise,” Michele Molinari, president and CEO of the Molinari Rail Group, told PTI here.

However, he declined to share details about the investment needed for the project.

Molinari, who is also the board member of SwissRail Industry Association, said the group will form a Lucknow-based company that will manufacture 100 auxiliary power units per annum, which can be ramped up later.

“We will have a company here in India which we will set up together with Prag Group of Industries at Lucknow and there we will combine long standing Indian and Swiss rail expertise as a new player in the Indian rail industry,” he said.

“We are already assembling the first prototypes this year in Lucknow in collaboration with Prag. It will be a Molinari managed company” he added.
He said the company is eying some other projects in the railways sector as well.

“We are looking at Railways sector which is our speciality. There are interesting projects coming up that is where our focus is. We are looking at tenders of Indian Railways and other companies in the sector so that we can participate with our knowledge and expertise leveraging the new local set up in Lucknow,” he said.

Molinari also said the SwissRail Industry Association is keen to invest in India. The association has 110 members and most of them are SMEs and family-owned companies.

“The members are all very innovative, competitive and delivering world class Swiss quality. Most of them are into exports and of course India is a natural place to work for us. Swiss industry and especially Swiss rail industry has always collaborated with India for a long time,” he said.

“With the modernisation programme of Indian Railways and based on the Make in India policy, there are huge opportunities for us and for the Swiss industry,” he said.

Headquartered in Switzerland and having major sites in Austria and Germany, Molinari Rail delivers customised solutions for the rail industry worldwide.

Railway Board ask RVNL to carry out the Feasibility Study for 2 more Bullet Train corridors

Following Rail Vikash Nigam Limited’s submission of the final feasibility report of a bullet train in the Delhi-Kolkata corridor, the Railway Board has now entrusted it with the feasibility study of two more alignments from Kolkata.

The Kolkata-Mumbai (1,968km) and Kolkata-Chennai (2,182km) corridors will be part of the high-speed railway network called Diamond Quadrilateral.

In fact, the Mumbai-Nagpur alignment will be the first phase of the proposed Mumbai-Kolkata corridor. The feasibility study is being done under government-to-government cooperation with Spain by Adif-Ineco.

Similarly, the feasibility study for Kolkata-Chennai corridor is to be decided by the ministry of railways. According to officials, this is quite similar to the Golden Quadrilateral highway project of the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

At present, the travel time by train from Kolkata to Mumbai varies from 26 to 40 hours. Duranta takes 26 hours to reach Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus while Jnaneswari Express takes 30 hours to reach Lomanyatilak Terminus (Kurla). The high-speed bullet train can reduce the travel time to less than 10 hours, said a Railways official.

However, the biggest challenges to these projects are land acquisition and capital investment. Like in Bengal, acquiring land will be a major issue all along these corridors. Land requirement for these is, however, smaller compared to a six-lane highway. A wide double-line high-speed corridor requires land that is 15-m wide while a six-lane high-speed road requires land that is 35-m wide. But a high-speed railway corridor allows more passengers per hour, said an RVNL officer.

High-speed railway (HSR) involves high capital cost and high demand risk due to higher tariff as compared to conventional rail. This is why the tracks will be dedicated and mostly elevated. The emphasis will be on alternative revenue sources like real estate, carbon credits and cross-subsidy from road/air travellers.

But there is hardly any alternative to high-speed rail. A double-track train is equivalent to a three-lane motorway. Twelve trains per hour per direction can only be replaced by 4,000 cars per hour per direction. While HSR can carry 14,400 passengers per hour, a motorway can carry only 8,000 passengers per hour. So, HSR facilitates decongestion to a great extent, explained Railways officials.

Each HSR corridor will have a long gestation period and will be highly capital intensive. The project will require seamless coordination among central government ministries, government agencies and state governments, as well as strategic thinking.