Indian Railways News

BSE’s India International Exchange lists IRFC’s first Green Bond

he Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)’s India International Exchange listed the first bond on its Global Securities Market yesterday.

The bonds issued by Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC) are one of the highest credit rated bonds issued by an Indian corporate and has been IRFC’s first foray into the Green Bond market.

On the occasion of listing the bond, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday, in the days to come, IRFC is going to expand its footprint into the newer lines of business and will be able to use its Minimum Alternate Tax better.

Aiming to fund rail expenditure through asset monetisation, railway minister said that he would be “satisfied” with any amount of capital allocation to the transport behemoth in the upcoming budget. Without giving details on the budget allocation for railways, Goyal told reporters in Mumbai that he is “satisfied with whatever has been proposed (in the budget). Frankly, I may not even need all of that as we have aggressive plans on monetising some of the (Railways) assets,” he said.

The railway budget was merged with the general budget last year. The minister said his government is planning to change some of the existing guidelines on monetising land and station assets as well as contemplating on extending the lease period from 45 years to 99 years, among others.

Speaking on the sidelines of a BSE event, he also noted that after extensive stakeholder deliberations “there is a lot of excitement among them to get involved”. “One concern developers had was regarding the approval process, so we are bringing in new guidelines to penalise ourselves (the Railways) for every day of delay in giving approvals,” Goyal said.

He said the move will help build confidence among the promoters and maximise the value of the railways and therefore not make the public sector unit “dependent on the union budget”. Asked about plans to list the Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC), Goyal said the public sector enterprise is looking to expand its footprint in days to come into newer line of business which would help improve its valuation.

“Therefore, some of those timelines I have allowed to be delayed till the final business plans are made and finalised with Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Corporate Affairs…certain other concessions we require,” Goyal said. IRFC is a unit of the Indian Railways that helps raise financing for various other units of the transport PSU.

Indian Railways to focus on branding to promote Rail Tourism

The instruction came days after a parliamentary committee in its report blamed the national transporter for not doing enough to promote rail tourism.

To promote rail tourism in the country, the railways has asked its zonal arms and public sector undertakings to outsource their ticketing and catering works to IRCTC and concentrate on branding.

The instruction came days after a parliamentary committee in its report blamed the national transporter for not doing enough to promote rail tourism.

In a letter on January 3, Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani has asked all zonal railways to promote the brand of rail tourism on select routes.

He has asked them to identify tourist and luxury trains and brand them both on the interior and exterior.

Lohani has also asked rail PSUs such as Indian Railway Finance Corporation and Ircon International, and zonal railways to give the catering contracts for all events, seminars and programmes held outside rail premises to IRCTC, the railways’ catering and tourism arm.

Senior zonal railway officials have been told that the responsibility of managing such events should also be entrusted with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

PSUs under the transport behemoth have also been asked to book air tickets for all its personnel from the IRCTC website, thus promoting the brand.

Soon after the parliamentary standing committee report was tabled, Lohani held a meeting with the travel and trade community where the issue of promotion of luxury trains was raised. In fact, the committee said that there was a lacuna in the branding of such trains.

Lohani has also addressed one of the major grouses of the travel community which said that the running schedules of such trains were not made clear. In order to cut down on delays, the board has now entrusted the Director, Coaching as the nodal officer for luxury trains.

The official can now be directly approached for approval on any scheduling issues, instead of the zonal railways.

Sources say that the board now wants to take on promoting rail tourism seriously and soon it will hold meeting with state tourism departments to take it forward.

Army-Railways stand-off in Hyderabad MMTS project

A go-ahead from the Ministry of Defence and delinking of compensation discussions from that of land alienation, are yet to make Army land available for the MMTS project. The Army in Secunderabad rebuts Railways’ claims that it is stalling the project.

As part of the MMTS Phase-II project, a 23-km railway line, running between Sanathnagar and Moula Ali, was to be doubled. About 4 km of this line, between Suchitra and Sanathnagar, exists on Defence land, which the Railways had used to lay the first line in the past. However, when the Railways sought to lay a parallel line post-2014, the Local Military Authority (LMA) objected. Difference in the quantum of compensation awarded by the Railways and the State government for the Defence land was cited as the reason for objection. Consequently, 64-acres of land, that was once handed over to railways to build a track is no longer available, Railway officials say, even as work on rest of the stretch nears completion.

“Around 90 % of the work on the stretch is complete. The rest can go ahead only if the local military authority allows the use of land,” a senior Railway official said.

The existing line runs through a firing range that has been not been in use for many years. In compensation for the Defence land, neither the State government nor the Railways have been able to provide land of equal value to the Ministry of Defence. The demand for equal value land has also been the bone of contention between the State government and the Army in other transactions. Defence sources informed that one of the main reasons for Army’s demand is to have a state-of-art firing range facility, far from civilian settlements. The firing facilities that the Army had in Secunderabad and surrounding area are now enclosed by thick civilian settlements, as in the case of Bowenpally and Kowkur.

A breakthrough for the mass transport project appeared within arm’s reach last year, when a high-level ministerial committee was constituted to discuss compensation while delinking it from ground-level development of the project. A State-level board comprising representatives of the Telangana government, Railways and the Army, was also set up to resolve the issue. The Ministry of Defence informed the LMA to give its nod, Railway officials claimed, adding that the LMA has not acted yet.

Denying the Railway’s version of events, Army officials informed that the recommendations of the board and the Defence Ministry, along with that of the LMA, have been forwarded to the next level of command and the matter is being actively pursued to favour the project.

Visit work sites twice in 15 days, Railways tell Senior Officials

Senior officials of the Indian Railways will now have to camp for two days in a fortnight in areas where safety works are underway to ensure proper execution of such work.

The Railway Board in a letter last month directed that Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) officers in the civil engineering department be nominated and allotted a division each where they will oversee safety-related works which include track renewal, bridge rehabilitation, elimination of unmanned level crossings, raising platforms and other track maintenance work.

“The nominated officers should regularly visit the division to provide necessary guidance in planning and execution of the works… These officers may be directed to camp in their allotted division for one week in the beginning and thereafter should visit the allotted division for at least two days every fortnight till the end of March 2018”, the letter said.

SAG are usually at least joint secretary-level officers, who have completed an average of 23 years in service.

In the next financial year, Indian Railways has set a target of replacing 8,000 km of old and depleted lines at an estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore and overhauling the entire signalling network to improve safety.

Officials say that this will reduce the number of derailments by 50 per cent in the next two years.

Rails supplied to Indian Railways are defect free, says SAIL

The country’s largest steelmaker SAIL has said the rails supplied to railways are totally “defect free” and processing of tracks at the PSU follows highest level of quality control.

The statement comes in the wake of railways inviting a global tender to plug the shortfall in supply of rails from Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL).

“Production of rails is a complex multi stage process. The processing of rail tracks at SAIL follows highest level of quality control by virtue of which almost 15 per cent of work in progress is kept aside during various stages of production,” a company official said.

State-owned SAIL has been its sole supplier so far. The public sector undertaking (PSU) has been supplying tracks to Indian railways for more than five decades.

“The 100 per cent of rails supplied by SAIL to Indian railways are inspected by a third party and are completely defect free,” the official added.

Railways recently said that it had to invite a global tender for procuring more than 4 lakh metric tonne of rails to meet the shortfall of supply from SAIL.

Minister of state for railways Rajen Gohain had informed the Rajya Sabha that the requirement of rails for Indian Railways for year 2017-2018 was 14.59 lakh metric tonnes.

“SAIL as per their latest projection has given commitment to supply 9.5 lakh metric tonne rails during 2017-2018. To meet the shortfall of supply from SAIL, Railway has invited a global tender…,” Gohain had said.

The pre-bid conference for this tender was held on 21 November. The technical bids of tender for procurement of 4,87,000 metric tonnes of 60 kg-UIC rails was opened on 22 December 2017.

This was the first time that the national transporter floated a global tender for procuring rails.

Recently, SAIL commissioned its 1.2 MTPA new Universal Rail Mill (URM). And with this, the PSU has begun the commercial production of world’s longest single rail of 130 meters from the new URM.

“This URM will take BSP’s (Bhilai Steel Plant) total capacity to produce rails at 2.0 MTPA, which will be the largest rail production capacity in any single location for a plant world over,” the PSU official said.

“Alongside the URM, a long rail welding complex had also been set with proven technology for world class rail welding. The welding complex is equipped with fully automated flash butt welding machine to weld rail panels of 260-metre length and fully automated long rail handling facility,” the official added.

This URM complex will equip SAIL to meet railways’ specific demand of 260-metre rails as the new mill is capable of producing 260 metre long rail with a single weld and also has the provision to supply welded panels up to 520 metre length in future, the official said.

Travelling with Indian Railways? Using Cloak Rooms, Lockers to become Costlier soon

Soon, passengers who stow their luggage in railway cloakrooms and lockers would have to shell out more for availing the service. The railway board has now empowered Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) to raise the usage fee for the service at stations. It will soon launch a bidding system to modernise the service, including a computerised inventory, and allowing fee to be raised annually.

Currently, Railways charges Rs 20 for the use of a locker for 24 hours and Rs 30 for every additional 24 hours or part thereof. Earlier it was Rs 15.

The cloak room rent is Rs 15 for 24 hours, in 2000 it was Rs 7 and Rs 20 and for every additional 24 hours which was earlier Rs 10.

The last revision of the rates was done in February 2013, the first since 2000 when the prices were Rs 10 and 15 for 24 hours for use of lockers and cloak rooms respectively.

Once the new policy is in place, the base price for a unit of luggage to be kept for specified hours in the cloak rooms and lockers will be decided through an open bidding system.

“It has, now been decided that DRMs shall have full powers for upward revision of the cloak room and locker tariff at stations based on their local conditions…,” the new policy decision said.

This service is widely used by backpackers and many domestic tourists who are on short visits to a tourist spot.

“Many do not want to lug their luggage around and want a safe place to keep their stuff. The railways has been providing this service for long.

“At some stations where there is high tourist footfall and thus high demand, we thought that the officer in the field should decide how much he wants to fix the fee at,” a senior railway official said.

The service in fact is quiet helpful for tourists – all one has to do is deposit the luggage duly locked and then a receipt is given.

This receipt, duly signed as an acknowledgement of having received the luggage, should be surrendered along with the prescribed charges at the time of delivery. At most stations, one can keep their luggage for up to a month in these cloak rooms and lockers.

The policy decision also says that a trial run is being planned in identified A1 or class A stations where space will be provided by railways for a licensing fee to the successful bidder to run the service.

“The successful bidder may be allowed fixed escalation in charges on a yearly basis,” said the document detailing the outsourcing plans of the railways’ cloak rooms and lockers issued earlier this month.

SCR increases Special Trains to handle huge Sankranti Passenger rush. GM monitors all arrangements

The spirit of Sankranti, the harvest festival in the two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which sees a huge flow of people travelling to their native places from the urban centers, drew the best out of South Central Railway. Rising to the challenge of passenger demands on its network during the Sankranti vacations, SCR has been successfully implementing a well planned strategy to cater to the rush of rail users, transporting them to their destinations without inconvenience. The entire plan is being implemented from 1st to 20th January, 2018 which will see people travelling between various destinations, since the Sankranti vacations fall in that duration.

Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway held several meetings with senior officials of the Zone involved in train operations and instructed them to run as many number of special trains as possible, in addition to strengthening of all other passenger need based utility services, so as to make travel comfortable. Besides intensively monitoring the passenger traffic pattern on a day to day basis, the General Manager himself visited Secunderabad and Kacheguda Railway stations in Hyderabad city yesterday i.e., 13th January, 2018 during the peak rush hours in the evening to personally monitor the arrangements and interact with passengers to seek their suggestions and response. Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav has also directed the Divisional Railway Managers and Additional Divisional Railway Managers of the Divisions to continuously keep a check on the traffic requirements and monitor the situation extensively.

The general pattern of extra rush of passenger traffic during Sankranti season concerns people from Hyderabad city visiting their home towns, mostly in coastal Andhra Pradesh belt, besides other parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The rush also soars between the urban centers and pilgrim destinations, particularly Tirupati and Shirdi. Yet another demand during the same period pertains to the Sabarimalai bound Ayyappa pilgrim traffic, which also peaks on these festival dates. Accordingly, SCR devises its plan to run special trains for Sankranti and Sabarimalai season, in advance. However, during the current year, the General Manager personally involved in the task and wanted a dynamic approach to handle traffic needs by means of continuously analyzing passenger traffic trends on the Zone and running special trains at the shortest notice. Going a step further, he also put the officials on the task to ensure that all the sections of rail users are catered to, so that there are no complaints from any quarter, particularly those who opt to travel in general second class at the last moment.

SCR handles around 10.2 lakh passengers on each normal day. The figures rose by around 60, 000 more passengers each day between 1st to 14th January, 2018 which signifies the huge additional demand on the rail network in the Zone during Sankranti. It is expected that the total additional passenger traffic catered during Sankranti season by SCR, between 1st to 20th January, 2018 will touch a figure of 12 lakhs. The high point is that the three major rail terminals in Hyderabad city i.e., Secunderabad, Kacheguda and Hyderabad have seen a big surge in passenger footfall in last three days from 10th to 13thJanuary 2018. These three stations, which normally handle 75,000 outstation bound passengers each day, have registered a significant increase of passenger traffic by around 50%, with the passenger outflow touching around 1.10 lakh each day.

1) Special Trains: 147 Special Trains are being run for Sankranti season through which around 1.5 lakh additional berths have been generated. This comes as over 50 more special trains compared to the number of special trains operated last year. The Sankranti special trains are being run on popular and high demand routes, including between Hyderabad city and Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Vijayawada, Guntur, Machilipatnam, Nellore, Renigunta etc., besides between Nanded – Tirupati, Nagarsol – Tirupati, Adilabad – Tirupati, Tirupati-Visakhapatnam, Tirupati-Kakinada etc.

The highlight of these services is the running of exclusively general second class accommodation special Jansadharan Express trains between Secunderabad and Kakinada, to meet the last hour rush of passengers who intend to travel in second class without advance reservation, by far the cheapest mode of travel option during the festive season.

Apart from these trains, which mostly serve passenger needs within the two Telugu states, SCR is also running long distance Special Trains connecting Hyderabad with Guwahati, Jaipur, Darbhanga, Raxaul, Krishnarajapuram (Bengaluru) and Tatanagar to meet the rush of holiday season traffic.

Coming to the Sabarimalai pilgrim traffic rush, SCR has scheduled 156 Special trains through the entire season including 66 trains between 1st and 20th January, 2018. These trains link Hyderabad, Kakinada, Narsapur, Machilipatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Aurangabad, Nanded, Nizamabad, Akola, Adilabad, Sirpurkagaznagar, Nalgonda, Warangal, Khammam etc., with Kollam, Kochuveli and Tirupati.

2)  Additional coaches in regular trains: Apart from Special Trains, SCR has come out with an innovative plan to closely monitor passenger traffic in various sectors and in different classes. Basing on the same, regular trains are being augmented with extra coaches in various classes, so as to carry additional number of passengers by these trains, who are booked in the waiting list. During the period from 1st to 13th January 2018, 195 extra coaches have been attached to several popular trains like Goutami Express, Narsapur Express, Simhapuri Express Visakha Express, Venkatadri Express and Bangalore Express etc, benefiting an additional of 11,000 passengers.

3)         Other Measures: With the onus of meeting a 50 % increase in passenger traffic during the peak festival days, SCR also undertook various other measures to ensure convenience and comfort to passengers. The initiatives include –

Operation of additional ticket booking counters by deploying staff in required numbers besides utilizing the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) on the Platforms in a big way, by means of ensuring the presence of ATVM facilitators.
Strengthening of Enquiry counters has been done by posting more number of staff. Frequency of public information related announcements has been substantially increased, so as to keep the passengers well informed on their requirements.
Officers and Senior Supervisors have been deputed to camp at various major railway stations round the clock and closely monitor the passenger traffic flow and take on spot decisions to ease their travel.
Ticket checking staff has been booked to extensively check the trains at stations and on trains, so that genuine passengers are not put to trouble and the possibility of revenue leakage is also plugged.
In order to ensure smooth movement of passengers on platforms at Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Kacheguda, Vijayawada Railway stations which see a huge rush, the platform ticket fares have been temporarily enhanced from Rs. 10/- to Rs. 20/-, so as to discourage avoidable rush of people on platforms who come to send off those doing journey.
Catering arrangements have been suitably increased to meet the needs of rail users and inspections are being conducted by Railway officials to curb overcharging of eatables and beverages besides ensuring cleanliness and quality at the catering stalls.
With the increase in traffic and the resultant impact on cleanliness in Trains and at Railway stations, steps have been taken to strengthen the On Board Housekeeping Services (OBHS) for Train cleanliness and round the clock mechanized cleaning at Railway Stations.
Security Measures have been tightened with the deployment of additional Security staff, both from Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) at Railway stations and on trains, to control and regulate the huge crowds wherever needed. Round the clock monitoring at Stations is being done by Close Circuit Television Cameras (CCTVs) Surveillance.
Sankranthi Special Trains from Kakinada Town to Secunderabad & Narsapur to Hyderabad

In order to clear extra rush of passengers during Sankranthi festive season, SCR will run two Special Trains viz., one Suvidha special train from Kakinada Town to Secunderabad and one special train from Narsapur to Hyderabad as detailed below:-

Kakinada Town to Secunderabad Suvidha Special:
Accordingly, 82707 Kakinada Town to Secunderabad Suvidha special train will depart Kakinada Town at 22:30 hrs on 17th January, 2018 and arrive Secunderabad at 09:45 hrs on next day. Enroute this Suvidha special train will stop at Samalkot, Rajahmundry, Tadepalligudem, Eluru, Vijayawada, Guntur, Pidugurala, Miryalguda and Nalgonda stations. This special train consists 18 coaches viz., of one AC II Tier, one AC III Tier, ten Sleeper Class, one Chair Car and three General Second seating and two luggage cum brake van Coaches.

Narsapur to Hyderabad Special:
Accordingly, 07049 Narsapur- Hyderabad special train will depart Narsapur at 19:30 hrs on 16th January, 2018 and arrive Hyderabad at 09:45 hrs on next day. Enroute this special train will stop at Palakollu, Bhimavaram, Bhimavaram Town, Akividu, Kaikaluru, Gudivada, Vijayawada, Guntur, Piduguralla, Miryalaguda, Nalgonda and Secunderabad stations. This special train consists of 13 coaches viz., one AC II Tier, four AC III Tier, two Sleeper Class, two AC Chair Car, two Second seating Chair Car and two Luggage cum Brake Van Coaches.

The General Manager Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav has directed that the entire plan to handle the rush of Sankranti festive traffic shall continue until the return direction passenger demand which is expected to peak in the next 3-4 days, is fulfilled.

Central Railway registers 20.5% increase in Earnings on Ticket Checking exercise

Central Railway registered a record ticket checking earnings of Rs.121.09 crore for the period April to December 2017 in its intensive campaign against ticketless and irregular travel. In its endeavor to provide better services to bonafide rail users and also to curb the ticketless travel, Central Railway has regularly taken innovative steps. Senior Officers are closely monitoring the revenue loss due to ticketless travel and such other irregularities.

In the month of December 2017, a total of 2.06 lakh cases of ticketless/irregular travel and unbooked luggage were detected as against 1.81 lakh cases in the corresponding month of last year i.e. December 2016, showing an increase of 14.01 %. The earnings realized from such ticketless/irregular travel registered Rs. 8.76 crore during the month of December 2017 showing an increase of 21.73 % as compared to earnings of Rs.7.68 crore registered during the corresponding month of last year i.e. December 2016.

Central Railway has detected in all 24.41 lakh cases of ticketless/irregular travel and unbooked luggage during the period April 2017 to December 2017, as against 20.69 lakh cases detected during the corresponding period last year, showing an increase of 17.94%. The earnings realized during the period from April to December 2017 from ticketless/irregular travel registered Rs.121.09 crore as against Rs. 100.53 crore registered during the corresponding period of last year showing an increase of 20.46% in earnings.

In addition during the month of Decmber-2017439 cases of transfer of reserved journey tickets were detected and Rs. 3.56 lakhrecovered as penalty.

Central Railway appeals to the passengers to travel with proper and valid railway tickets in order to avoid inconvenience and travel with dignity.

Soon, Using Railway Cloak Rooms And Lockers To Cost More

Soon, passengers who stow their luggage in railway cloak rooms and lockers would have to shell out more for availing the service.

The railway board has now empowered Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) to raise the usage fee for the service at stations.

It will soon launch a bidding system to modernise the service, including a computerised inventory, and allowing fee to be raised annually.

Currently, Railways charges Rs. 20 for the use of a locker for 24 hours and Rs. 30 for every additional 24 hours or part thereof. Earlier it was Rs. 15.

The cloak room rent is Rs. 15 for 24 hours, in 2000 it was Rs. 7 and Rs. 20 and for every additional 24 hours which was earlier Rs. 10.

The last revision of the rates was done in February 2013, the first since 2000 when the prices were Rs. 10 and 15 for 24 hours for use of lockers and cloak rooms respectively.

Once the new policy is in place, the base price for a unit of luggage to be kept for specified hours in the cloak rooms and lockers will be decided through an open bidding system.

“It has, now been decided that DRMs shall have full powers for upward revision of the cloak room and locker tariff at stations based on their local conditions…,” the new policy decision said.

This service is widely used by backpackers and many domestic tourists who are on short visits to a tourist spot.

“Many do not want to lug their luggage around and want a safe place to keep their stuff. The railways has been providing this service for long.

“At some stations where there is high tourist footfall and thus high demand, we thought that the officer in the field should decide how much he wants to fix the fee at,” a senior railway official said.

The service in fact is quiet helpful for tourists – all one has to do is deposit the luggage duly locked and then a receipt is given.

This receipt, duly signed as an acknowledgement of having received the luggage, should be surrendered along with the prescribed charges at the time of delivery. At most stations, one can keep their luggage for up to a month in these cloak rooms and lockers.

The policy decision also says that a trial run is being planned in identified A1 or class A stations where space will be provided by railways for a licensing fee to the successful bidder to run the service.

COMMENTS”The successful bidder may be allowed fixed escalation in charges on a yearly basis,” said the document detailing the outsourcing plans of the railways’ cloak rooms and lockers issued earlier this month.

Not Focusing Only On Budget For Rail Funds: Piyush Goyal

Aiming to fund rail expenditure through asset monetisation, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday he would be “satisfied” with any amount of capital allocation to the transport behemoth in the upcoming budget.

Without giving details on the budget allocation for Railways, Mr Goyal told reporters in Mumbai that he is “satisfied with whatever has been proposed (in the budget)”.

“Frankly, I may may not even need all of that as we have aggressive plans on monetising some of the (Railways) assets,” he said.

The Railway budget was merged with the general budget last year.

The minister said his government is planning to change some of the existing guidelines on monetising land and station assets as well as contemplating on extending the lease period from 45 years to 99 years, among others.

Speaking on the sidelines of an BSE event, he also noted that after extensive stakeholder deliberations “there is a lot of excitement among them to get involved”.

“One concern developers had was regarding the approval process, so we are bringing in new guidelines to penalise ourselves (the Railways) for every day of delay in giving approvals,” Goyal said.

He said the move will help build confidence among the promoters and maximise the value of the Railways and therefore not make the PSU “dependent on the Union budget”.

Asked about plans to list the Indian Railways Finance Corporation (IRFC), Mr Goyal said the public sector enterprise is looking to expand its footprint in days to come into newer line of business which would help improve its valuation.

“Therefore, some of those timelines I have allowed to be delayed till the final business plans are made and finalised with Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Corporate Affairs…certain other concessions we require,” Goyal said.

COMMENTSIRFC is a unit of the Indian Railways that helps raise financing for various other units of the transport PSU.