Indian Railways News

Indian Railways opens door to private steel manufacturers

Indian Railways has floated a global tender to procure rails, a move that may end the monopoly of state-run supplier Steel Authority of IndiaBSE 0.98 % Ltd. as Asia’s oldest network seeks to plug a supply shortfall.

The state-run freight and passenger carrier is seeking to buy 700,000 metric tons of rails for track upgrades, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said. The move will ensure steady supplies and competitive prices. Jindal Steel & Power Ltd., one of the biggest non-state steelmaker, may benefit as it’s the only other local producer of this grade, according to Goutam Chakraborty, an analyst at Emkay Global Financial Services.

“If Steel Authority cannot supply, then they will go in for other producers. So in that way, JSPL will definitely be benefiting,” Chakraborty said by phone from Mumbai. “The railways’ first preference will always be Steel Authority.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pouring about 8.6 trillion rupees ($132 billion) to upgrade the aging lines of the network that was started under British colonial rule. Giant track-laying projects are underway to modernize passenger and freight movements to cut travel time.

Market Share
The tender gains significance as Steel Authority and Jindal Steel have been trying to boost market share and profits after reporting losses for at least two straight years even as they battle high debt levels. Indian Railways expects annual demand for steel rails to rise to 1.5 million tons in the year ending March from about 800,000 tons in the prior 12-month period.

2020 deadline to redevelop 10 railway stations with airport-like amenities

The government has set a 2020 deadline to redevelop 10 railway stations into world classsmart facilities with airport-like amenities at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore. The redevelopment of stations will be carried out under a self-financing model through land monetisation by state-run NBCC.

The stations selected for the project are Delhi Sarai Rohilla, Lucknow, Gomti Nagar, Kota, Tirupati, Nellore, Ernakulam, Puducherry, Madgaon and Thane.

“The redevelopment work will start at a few stations by December-end or early next year. The concept designs are already being worked out,” NBCC chairman AK Mittal told ET. “We’re targeting the completion in another two to two-and-a-half years. The monetisation would be done through commercial exploitation of the land that railway provides.”

Indian Railways’ Panchavati Express enters 43rd year

The Manmad-Mumbai ‘Panchavati Express’ today completed 42 years of its operations, Central Railway officials said.

The train passes through Nashik and several traders use it daily to commute to Mumbai from the North Maharashtra city.

Nashik MP Hemant Godse and others cut a cake at the Nashik Road railway station, when the train arrived at around 7 AM, the CR officials said.

The train, which starts from Manmad, terminates at the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.

JSPL keen to supply rails to Indian Railways

Jindal Steel and Power LtdBSE 0.29 % (JSPL) is keen to participate in a tender floated by the Indian Railways for procuring rails, a senior company official said today.

The Ministry of Railways has recently floated a global tender to procure 7 lakh tonnes of rails worth Rs 3,500 crore. This is the first time that the railways has come up with such a tender.

Terming it a “not-to-miss opportunity”, JSPL’s corporate strategy head Kapil Mantri told PTI, “We are already supplying rails to railways of other countries and if we are able to grab it (tender) this will be the first opportunity for us (in the country).”

In India, JSPL is the only company manufacturing rails besides public sector Steel Authority of IndiaBSE 1.29 % Ltd (SAILBSE 1.29 %), he said.

Mantri further said that JSPL is, however, supplying rails for metro projects in India as well as abroad.

At present, SAIL is the only company supplying rails to the country’s largest transport network railways. SAIL’s Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) is country’s sole producer and supplier of rails to Indian Railways including 260-metre long rails.

REC may fund Indian Railways’ drive to electrify entire network

The Indian Railways may rope in state-owned Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) to fund its ambitious plan to electrify the entire network by 2021-22. The corporation is likely to lend the railways the entire project cost of around Rs 30,000 crore, spanning over four-five years, at an annual interest rate of 9% for a lending period of 8-10 years, a top railway ministry official said.

The railways will be spending almost Rs 8,000 crore every year towards electrification for the next four years. Railway minister Piyush Goyal recently met top REC officials and discussed the funding for the electrification project, the official added.

“The railways has prepared a Rs 35,000-crore plan to electrify its remaining 33,000 km network in another four years. However, the minister is of the view that we can reduce the cost by 20-25% by giving out large contract sizes and standardising the designs. He has already instructed officials to work on it,” the official said.

The cost of electrification works out to slightly more than Rs 1 crore a km. By going fully electric, the national transporter will save Rs 10,500 crore every year on account of fuel. The railways currently has an energy bill of Rs 26,500 crore.

Government approves one-time waiver of Railways’ dividend payout

The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal for a one-time waiver of the Indian Railways’ dividend payout of around Rs 9,000 crore to the general exchequer for 2016-17.

With this, the railways can now approach the Parliament for its approval to the waiver.

After the merger of the railway budget with the general budget last year, it was decided that the national transporter would not have to pay dividend for the capital invested in it.

While the railways was budgeted to pay Rs 9,730 crore as dividend for the last financial year, a subsidy of Rs 4,300 crore was claimed by it towards loss-making routes, putting the net dividend reportedly at about Rs 5,430 crore.

“The Cabinet approves the proposal of the Ministry of Railways to move a resolution in both the houses of Parliament adopting the Railway Convention Committee’s (2014) recommendations that for the year 2016-17, purely as a one- time move, the rate of dividend payable by the railways to the general revenues be waived off,” a Press Information Bureau (PIB) release said.

 

Train services disrupted at Kharagpur Station on Sunday

Train services at Kharagpur Station will be disrupted for 24 hours on Sunday owing the installation of state-of-the-art solid state interlocking system, the largest in Asia, at Kharagpur in West Midnapore district.

Work had been on since November 4 and is expected to be completed on Sunday.

Trains from different stations have been stopped at places such as Balichak, Hijli, Kalaikunda and Girimaidan. Bus services from those places to Kharagpur have been initiated but commuters complained that those were far from being enough.

Many express trains and about 90 per cent local trains had been cancelled owing to the ongoing work. There had been smaller disruptions since work started but since November 17 the major disruptions began.

A senior Railway official of Kharagpur said that the technology, once installed will help in controlling train movements on about 800 routes through computer. “Speed of trains will increase, time will be maintained and smaller accidents would be averted,” he said.

It was found out that the new system which is being installed at a cost of over 39 crore in replacing the previous one which has long passed its codal life. He also said that platforms 7 and 8 had been operational during the work with two additional lines – one from Midnapore and the other from Howrah – had been linked to Kharagpur to enhance capacity.

Another senior official said that at least three signal cabins would not be of any use after the upgradation and fewer station masters would be required at Kharagpur.

Test runs have been conducted in the last 7-8 months and the new system would ensure that trains would not meet bang into each other at crossings.

Normal train services are expected to resume from November 20.

3 Rly workers, all women, run over by train

Three women were killed and another one was severely injured after they came under a running train on Saturday afternoon.

All the women were contract labourers who were working on the railway tracks between Malad and Goregaon station.

The deceased have been identified as Shivani Bhoryalay, 18, Anita Shinde, 32, and Jaya Khatawase, 35. Shivani’s mother Sunita has sustained severe injuries in the accident. All the deceased hailed from Madhya Pradesh.

The women, after completing their work of deep screening (checking stones laid on tracks), were walking towards the Malad railway station around 12.15 pm when they were run over by holiday special Bandra Terminus-Indore Express.

All the four women were moved to civic-run Shatabdi hospital where doctors declared them dead. The injured woman is undergoing treatment.

“We were working since 9 am and were about to finish around noon. The four women began walking towards Malad station on the same track they were working on. As the train approached, many people tried to alert them, but it was too late,” said Hemant Singh, the site supervisor.

Railway officials termed the presence of labourers on the spot illegal and an act of trespassing, a term used to describe illegal crossing of tracks.

“The women were contract labourers and not railway employees. Their work place was far from the accident site. They were trespassing the railway tracks between Malad and Goregaon stations,” said Chief Public Relations Officer of Western Railway (WR) Ravinder Bhakar.

Purushottam Karad, deputy commissioner of police, Government Railway Police, WR, said, “Four women were run over by a train, three of them died on the spot and one of them have sustained severe injuries. We have registered an accidental death report at the Borivali Railway police station,”

Ajay Singh, divisional secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh, said: “The Railways should ensure that although these are contract labourers as per labour laws, proper salaries, provident fund and insurance are paid to them. They should also be given necessary safety gear”.

Meanwhile, the Borivali police have recorded the statements of family members of the deceased, labour contractor and supervisor of the site along with other eyewitnesses.

Piyush Goel green signals Vasundhara Raje plea

Railway minister Piyush Goel on Friday waived off haulage charges on all royal trains, including the Palace of Wheels. The move came during chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s meeting with the minister in New Delhi.

The decision will lower the operative cost and the fare and directly benefit the passengers. Meanwhile, Raje also discussed the coal crisis with Goel which was deepened in October around Diwali.

The state governments, including Rajasthan, that operate luxury trains and the Indian Railways were at loggerheads over haulage charges imposed on such trains, citing high operative cost.

During the meeting, the minister said: “In future, no haulage charges will be applicable by the Indian Railways on royal trains. Also the ministry will help Rajasthan to operate new trains.”

According to a statement released by the government, the CM had requested the minister to give relaxation in recovery of hauling charge for Royal Rajasthan Wheels train, operation of Palace on Wheels as a heritage train and not to uproot 70km old heritage railway track between Dholpur- Sarmathpura while laying a parallel broad-gauge line.

The severe power crisis happened due to shortage of coal in Rajasthan in October was also part of the discussion between Goel and Raje. The CM asked the minister to increase railway racks so coal in adequate amount could be supplied to the power projects in Rajasthan.

“This will be helpful to provide power supply 24/7 to people and farmers will get power without disruption for irrigation,” Raje said.Meanwhile the minister appreciated Raje for adoption UDAY scheme to overcome power companies from losses.

Indian Railways takes steps to identify absentee workers, Mazdoor unions resent

A government job is said to be cushy as apart from salaries, perks, and regular bonus; they have 7-8hours work shifts or even less. However, on November 13, the Railway Board in Delhi ensured that the 14-lakh staff working for the Indian Railways come out of their comfort zone.

For the first time, supervisors who head departments will be issuing certificates stating that an employee was present at work.

‘All employees in control of staff should give a certificate that they do not have any employee on their rolls who do not physically exist,’ states a circular issued by the Railway Board to all General Managers across Indian Railways.

The circular issued by the Member (Staff) DK Gayen – who heads the Human Resources department for the whole of Indian Railways – also stated that random surprise checks should be conducted by inspectors of Personnel department and respective department. It has also asked for reviewing and listing names of unauthorised absentees in each department and unit. A copy of this is with DNA.

The officers and supervisors approving the muster role will also have to give a certificate that all the staff who are getting their salaries where physically present on duty during the period. Not just this, every department will review the attendance sheet and weed out employees whose presence is based on mere proxy marking on the muster.

Sources said that the Chairman of Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani when he assumed charge, had told that steps would be taken to monitor the performance of people.

This is an important step as the coach production units, workshops, and car sheds where rakes are maintained and upgraded comprise of huge working staff. With lesser people actually on the ground for maintenance and upkeep of rail assets; the quality of coaches, basic amenities inside like seats, toilet blocks, fans and linen provided to passengers gets ignored.

“These staffs are our eyes and ears. If they aren’t present then it is bound to have severe repercussions even in areas that come under safety category,” said a senior railway official.

There are instances where people come to work in the morning, sign muster and leave after a couple of hours either for personal work or for the affiliated rail unions. The end result is that the number of people needed to ensure quality work be it in production and upkeep of rail tracks, coaches, cables and signaling systems is insufficient.

This circular is also a jolt to the railway unions who have been playing an active role in shaping the Indian Railways. The unions at these places of work result in employees not giving the desired time and effort.

The administration will be monitoring people to see if they are skipping work to balance out time for these registered unions. In fact, recently the General Manager of Western Railway AK Gupta had made a surprise check in his own office building at Churchgate where he caught women staff from another department, chit chatting even after lunch hours.

Praveen Bajpai, general secretary, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: The staff knows the responsibilities and job well. There is no need for anyone to monitor. Everyday railway men open ticket booking windows, loco pilots and guards run trains, gangmen maintain tracks and other employees do their work; without anyone from administration telling them. Rather the Railway administration should concentrate on filling up over 2.5 lakh vacant posts which are causing a burden on other rail employees.

Ajay Singh, divisional secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: “This circular has asked to take action against those who go on unauthorised leaves of more than 21 days. It is not as if the staff sign on the muster and leave as there is a lot of work and the administration isn’t filling up posts which results in undue pressue”.

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