Indian Railways News

Indian Railways to upgrade service, on-board entertainment on Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains for festive season

Trolley service for catering, polite uniformed staff and on-board entertainment are some of the changes slated to be introduced in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains from October 2017.

Aiming at enhancing the experience of passengers travelling by these premier trains, Indian Railways has undertaken a complete makeover exercise in 30 trains — 15 Rajdhani and 15 Shatabdi — at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore.

Targeting the festive season which begins from October, railways have launched a three-month programme under Project Swarn to refurbish coach interiors, and improving toilets and cleanliness in coaches.

There have been complaints pertaining to catering, punctuality, toilet cleanliness and quality of linen among others things in these trains.

It has been decided to improve services in these premier trains significantly and accordingly the Project Swarn has been launched with a three-month timeline, said a Railway ministry official involved with the project.

The project also envisages strengthening of security system in trains with adequate escort by personnel of the Railway Police Force.

Rajdhani Express meant for Mumbai, Howrah, Patna, Ranchi and Bhubaneswar are among the trains selected for service upgradation.

Shatabdi trains of Howrah-Puri, New Delhi-Chandigarh, New Delhi-Kanpur, Howrah-Ranchi, and Anand Vihar-Kathgodam are also among the trains selected for the makeover exercise.

Steps will be taken for improving punctuality by reducing delays in premier trains, the official said.

A new uniform has also been designed for staff in these premier trains.

Passengers will be offered movies, serials and music among other facilities as an on-board entertainment package.

Railways to Offer Tickets in Regional Language Besides English and Hindi

The Indian Railways’ Passenger Amenities Committee has given an in-principle go-ahead for printed tickets to be made available in the local language, apart from Hindi and English, from January 1, 2018.

In a victory of sorts to language campaigners from across the country, the Board gave its nod after the issue was raised by Committee member Aseervatham Achary at a meeting on Wednesday.

“We had come across so many people in Tamil Nadu who had had problems with their tickets — there were people who didn’t know if they had the right tickets, there were people who didn’t know if they were in the right train. In some cases, people paid penalties for no fault of theirs — because they couldn’t read what was printed,” Achary told News18.

Initially, officials were reluctant to add on a third language: a) because they have worked with a dual language policy for a really long time, and b) because they still use archaic Cobol software which would be difficult to change immediately.

“I told them, this is not acceptable in a digital era. Railways is the nation’s largest service provider. Today you have cellphone companies who give services in three languages when you call their toll-free number. Is it not our duty to bring in the third, regional, language in States that don’t speak Hindi,” Achary said.

The software will be updated by the end of the year, and this would be applicable for all classes of journeys, and would be for passenger tickets bought manually at counters — and not those booked online (online tickets can be booked anywhere in the world — so a regional language would be difficult to implement there).

Tickets will have the language of the State where it is issued, for example, if you book a ticket somewhere in Andhra Pradesh for a train that starts in Kanyakumari and travels through five states, your ticket will be in Telugu.

The move evoked a lukewarm response from activists who have been holding campaigns against Hindi imposition. Karnataka, that has seen the most vociferous protests against the Central government’s attempts to ‘push Hindi down people’s throats,’ as it were, were cautious in welcoming the move and are waiting for the full order of the Ministry of Railways to get more clarity.

“It may be a momentary relief to hear that Kannada will be seen on railway tickets, but the fact that Kannada tickets are available in Karnataka, but Hindi tickets available everywhere in the country, remains the same. We still welcome the positive action taken,” said Vallish Kumar, who had spearheaded the #HindiBeda campaign in Bengaluru last week.

Another campaigner, Vasant Shetty, felt that the change could have happened much earlier.

“If not for the pressure of achieving Hindi usage targets set by the official language implementation committee, the Railways would have stopped their fascination for Hindi long back and would have focussed on providing services in people’s languages across India,” Shetty said.

But campaigners do feel this is a step in the right direction, and more commuter-friendly.

Indian railways to reduce emission by 33% by 2030

Going green, the Indian Railways is stepping up efforts to reduce emission by 33% in the next 10-12 years through sustained energy efficiency measures and and maximum use of clean fuel.

Promoting low carbon mass transportation system, the Railways will be using 5% bio diesel and CNG/LNG for traction while stepping up use of renewables up to 10% of its energy needs by 2030. Besides, state-of-the-art energy efficient locomotives and regenerative braking system will be the order of the day for the Railways to reduce emission level considerably.

The Indian Railways is 12 times more energy efficient in freight traffic and three times more in passenger traffic compared to roadways, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with green initiatives undertaken by the public transporter. Use of renewable sources of energy will be promoted for which a big target has been set to achieve 1000 MW of solar power and 170 MW of wind power installed capacities.

While about 20 MW of solar power plant on roof top has already been commissioned, wind power of 36 MW has been commissioned. In order to reduce carbon footprint, a low carbon growth strategy has been adopted to reduce emission intensity by 33% by the year 2030 with 2005 as the base year by improving traction fuel and energy efficiency, he said.

On the water front, the national transporter has decided to recycle water and promote rain water harvesting systems and revival of water bodies across the country. There is a concerted efforts for increasing forest cover on railway land. The target of tree plantation on rail land is 5 crore trees in the next three years.

“This year 1.2 crore trees have been planted against a target of 1.15 crore,” the official said. Railways have also commenced recycling of solid waste and generating energy from it. Fitting bio-toilets in its entire 55,000 strong fleet of coaches by 2019 is another green initiative of the Railways.

Rail link plan with Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal: Prabhu

The Centre is mulling linking neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal through the railways.

 This was announced here Friday by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at a programme where an agreement was signed between the Indian Railways and UNESCO.

“We have neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal. We have a very cordial relationship with them. We want to increase railway connectivity with these countries. We are trying to develop it,” Prabhu told reporters.

“If a circuit can be made connecting these neighbouring countries, it will increase interaction, tourism, trade, employment and connectivity,” he added.

Prabhu said work was on to connect all the eight state capitals of the north-east, so that the tourism potential of the region gets a boost.

Horticulture, floriculture, handicraft of the region would get a bigger market after the state capitals are connected with the rest of the country, the railway minister said, adding that he would visit Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the next two days.

Prabhu said investments of Rs 3-3.5 lakh crore would be made in the railways while the amount had been Rs 35,000-40,000 crore a year earlier. This will bring development in the functioning of the railways, he added.

Passenger sends cheque of Rs 950 to Railways foregoing fare subsidy!

The Railways is in a fix over a cheque of Rs 950 sent by a passenger apparently to give up the subsidy borne by the government on the train fare between Jammu and Delhi.

Currently, the Railways bears 43 percent of the cost of all rail fares even as the public transporter incurs a loss of about Rs 30,000 crore every year in subsidising passenger fares.

“There is no provision to accept such cheques so we will return it,” said a senior Railway Ministry official

In order to make passengers aware of the subsidy burden on the fare, it had started printing – “Indian Railways recovers only 57 percent of cost of travel on an average” – on the computerised printed tickets issued to passengers since June 22 last year.

Recently, a person travelling from Jammu to New Delhi saw the message written on his ticket about the 43 percent subsidy borne by the Railways during his train journey.

He then decided to forego the subsidy and sent a cheque of Rs 950 to IRCTC for a similar train journey undertaken by him and his wife on the Jammu Rajdhani.

He sent the cheque along with a letter addressing the railway minister stating that “he will never avail such financial benefits in future”.

The Railways had already given an option to senior citizens for foregoing concessions while buying tickets.

“But foregoing senior citizen concession is voluntary now and we are planning to make it broadbased covering other categories as well,” he said.

The Railways recovers only 57 percent of the expenses incurred for passenger transportation through sale of tickets of all classes.

The Railways thus aims to convey a message to passengers that they have been given a subsidy of 43 percent, or in other words, the transporter is incurring heavy losses to the tune of 43 percent for ferrying travellers.

Rlys will soon become more environment-friendly: Suresh Prabhu

The Indian Railways will soon become more environment friendly and will cut down its dependence on conventional fuel such as diesel by further track electrification, said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday. He was speaking after releasing the 2016-17 annual report on ‘Environment sustainability of the Railways’, on the occasion of World Environment Day. The Minister also released a new water policy to ensure efficient use of water by the Railways.

“Reducing dependence on conventional fuel is our priority for environment conservation and we are targeting electrification of the railway tracks so that the use of diesel may get nominal,” said Prabhu adding that track electrification will reduce emissions by a significant extent.

The Minister also said that the Railways has created a separate environment directorate and is working with the United Nations Environment Programme. Stressing on “going green”, the Minister said the environment conservation can help in boosting the economy.

“The Railways will be saving Rs 300 crore a year through a concerted effort to conserve water and restore water bodies on rail land across the country,” Prabhu said.

The minister also advocated use of other forms of the renewable energy and said, “We are switching to other renewable sources of energy like solar and wind energy.”

In 3 years there will be no unmanned railway crossing: Suresh Prabhu

Speaking exclusively to DNA, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that his ministry intends to do away with unmanned railway crossings in the next 3 years. Large number of casualties take place at unmanned crossings every year, hence it remains a major cause of concern for the railways.

Prabhu also said that since railways in recent times have become a target for sabotage, they have established a forensic wing to collect sufficient evidence. To minimise number of accidents, anti-collision devices are being installed, said Union Rail Minister. Presently, Indian railways carry 22.1 million passengers every day and in 2016 ferried 8.1 billion in the country, a record in its own.

On the issue of safety, Suresh Prabhu said that 40,000 coaches are being retrofitted by new coupling devices so that trains don’t get derailed. Railways intend to meet its target in next 5 years. Suresh Prabhu also told DNA that India will see bullet trains run by 2023 between Ahemdabad and Mumbai but the project may be completed one year early, according to him.

Regarding railway connectivity with neighbouring countries, Prabhu said, “We want to connect Indian peninsula with Myanmar and Nepal and the process is in place”. About fighting legacy issues, Suresh Prabhu said that it is a long struggle. “When I took over , I inherited issues related to infrastructure, organisation and finance. I depoliticised these issues and resolved them. There was lack of transparency and finance was in bad shape,” said Rail Minister. Prabhu added that he is hoping for railways to have line to more credit to brighten its finances. “It is for number of reasons when I took over, I didn’t announce new projects. In fact, I have implemented projects conceived and announced by my predecessors as I wanted promise to match execution,” said Railway Minister.

Suresh Prabhu said that currently the focus is also on conservation of environment and through number of initiatives railways will save Rs 300 crore. He particularly stressed on recycling of water used by the railways daily.

In the end when asked as to why political narrative of cow vigilantism and Kashmir is dominating discourse around the government, he said,” I request everyone to evaluate us on the work we have done. This is a distraction and it has to be done away. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken about these issues many times.”

 

Rajdhani, Shatabdi Trains To Be Revamped: This is What They Will Have

After the swanky and high-speed Tejas Express was successfully put on tracks last month, it’s time for Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains to get a major facelift. Enhanced catering, on-board entertainment and improved services are part of the makeover plan for these air-conditioned superfast trains under the Railway Ministry’s “Operation Swarn”.

In its first phase, the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express have been selected for upgradation. Work on the proposed changes for 30 trains – 15 Rajdhani and 15 Shatabdi – at an estimated cost of Rs. 25 crore starts September 26.
In the last few years, passengers have complained that the service and quality of food have deteriorated while cleanliness leaves a lot to be desired.

The three-month programme will include refurbishing of coach interiors, comfortable seats, improved sanitation infrastructure and maintenance of cleanliness in coaches.

Passengers will be able to watch films, TV shows and enjoy music as part of their entertainment package. Hygienic ways of handling food, special trolleys, clean linen and new uniforms for the staff aboard are part of the plan.

“Steps will also be taken to ensure punctuality by reducing delays in the premier trains,” a railways official said.

 A senior Railway Ministry official told news agency IANS, “The plan will be upgraded in future with services like Wi-Fi, infotainment screens (that were first provided in Tejas Express) and coffee vending machines.”

The project aims at strengthening the security system in the trains with adequate deployment of Railway Protection Force personnel.

In May, Tejas Express, India’s newest train, made its first trip from Mumbai to Goa. The luxury train took 400 passengers on the eight-and-a-half-hour journey. The bright yellow superfast train promises a flight-like experience on the track at less than Rs. 1,500 a ride.

The Tejas Express has German coaches fitted with LED screens, is loaded with coffee vending machines, automatic doors, fire repression system, bio-vacuum toilets, attendant call buttons, reading LED lights, besides free WiFi connectivity.

The train was designed to travel at 200 kmph but keeping in view the track conditions in the Konkan region, the speed is restricted to 130 kmph.

In the last few months, the Railways has launched a new series of fully air-conditioned express trains like Humsafar and Mahamana Express for overnight travel.

The Humsafar Express is equipped with features like CCTV cameras, coffee vending machines, fire and smoke detection systems, new interiors with comfortable seats.

The Mahamana Express has ergonomically designed ladders for climbing to upper berths, snack tables for side berths, windows with powered venetian blinds and roller blinds, LED lights as berth indicators, LED reading lights, fire extinguishers in all coaches and an electrically operated chimney in the pantry car.

Rajdhani, Shatabdi trains set for a big makeover from October this year

Trolley service for catering, polite uniformed staff and on-board entertainment are some of the changes slated to be introduced in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains from October this year.

Aiming at enhancing the experience of passengers travelling by these premier trains, the Indian Railways has undertaken a complete makeover exercise in 30 trains – 15 Rajdhani and 15 Shatabdi – at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore.

 Targeting the festive season which begins from October, railways have launched a three-month programme under Project Swarn (gold) to refurbish coach interiors, improving toilets and cleanliness in coaches.

There have been complaints pertaining to catering, punctuality, toilet cleanliness and quality of linen among others in these trains.

It has been decided to improve services in these premier trains significantly and accordingly the Project Swarn has been launched with a three-month timeline, said a Railway Ministry official involved with the project.

The project also envisages strengthening of security system in trains with adequate escort personnel by RPF.

Rajdhani Express meant for Mumbai, Howrah, Patna, Ranchi and Bhubaneswar are among the 15 Rajdhani trains selected for service upgradation.

Shatabdi trains of Howrah-Puri, New Delhi-Chandigarh, New Delhi-Kanpur, Howrah-Ranchi, Anand Vihar-Kathgodam are among the 15 trains selected for the makeover exercise.

Steps will be taken for improving punctuality by reducing delays in premier trains, he said.

The catering will be also a focus area beside cleanliness.

The staff will be specifically trained on hygiene and use of trolley for serving food in premier services as part of the makeover exercise.

A new uniform has been designed for staff in the premier trains.

Passengers will be offered films, serials and music among other facilities as an on-board entertainment package.

 

ISRO-Made Chip System To Alert Users At Unmanned Railway Crossings

 New Delhi:  The Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed a satellite-based chip systems to alert road users at unmanned level crossings about approaching trains and also help in tracking train movement on a

More trains will be equipped with such technology in a phase-wise manner, according to the plan.

Besides alerting road users, the satellite-based system will also be used for tracking trains for disseminating information about their movement on real time basis.

This will be of great help to passengers as currently train movements are tracked manually.

Safety at unmanned level crossings is a cause of serious concern for railways and the public transporter is exploring various ways to address the issue.

There are about 10,000 unmanned railway crossings in the country which account for around 40 per cent of accidents involving the railways.

While the Railways have eliminated 1,148 unmanned crossings in 2014-15 and 1,253 in 2015-16, it has scaled up its target and now plans to eliminate all such crossings in the next 2 to 3 years, the official said.

The satellite-based system will also help railways in mapping the area and the technology will come in handy at the time of accidents when it can be used to ascertain the exact location of trains and topography.

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