Indian Railways News

L&T seeks Rs.3,756 Crore for Hyderabad Metro Rail

L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad Limited (L&TMRHL), the concessionaire for Hyderabad Metro Rail project, has sought additional financial support of Rs.3,756 crore to facilitate completion of the project.

In a letter to the government on October 10, L&TMRHL has appealed for help, stating that the project needs urgent financial support to tide over the situation and establish financial viability.

It said the project funding was suffering due to reasons beyond the control of L&T or the State government. Hence, assistance is being sought from the Central government as well to sustain the project, L&TMRHL said in the letter.

The letter further stated that the concessionaire had exhausted all its means of financing and is currently starved of funds to complete the project. Since all sources of funding are exhausted, infusion of funds is needed from the government.

The letter comes after L&TMRHL held meetings with senior government officials in August seeking financial support. During the meeting, the concessionaire was asked to submit details on its financial requirements. The same had to be reviewed and necessary recommendations made to the Central government for approval.

According to sources, L&TMRHL has said that the delay in handing over land parcels as planned under the Concession Agreement led to the project being delayed by more than 15 months.

The concessionaire said it had achieved financial closure by tying up for a debt component of Rs.11,478 crore with a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India. Since the Right of Way (ROW) was not available on the appointed date, the same got deferred, resulting in the increase of project cost by about Rs.770 crore. The same was absorbed by the concessionaire.

However, the concessionaire continues to face various issues beyond its control. Works were commenced only on stretches where ROW was available and at other locations, while the control of land lay with the Ministry of Defence, Cantonment Board and Ministry of Railways, which in turn, has adversely impacted the project’s progress.

The new Land Acquisition Act in 2013 further delayed land acquisition, while increments in interest and forex costs, service and sales taxes, excise duty and GST have added additional financial stress, the letter said.

DMRC’s special drive to ensure smooth operations during festive season

In view of the festive season, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has decided to launch a special drive to ensure smooth operation of its trains.

Director (Operations) Sharat Sharma has directed all the officials of Operations and Maintenance wing to intensify their travel by the metro while moving to and fro duty, a DMRC’s press statement said.

The move comes close on the heels of the metro fare hike, which is being opposed by the Delhi government and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party.

According to the DMRC, the special drive is aimed at ensuring that any minor issue or incidence which may affect pleasant travel experience for the millions of passengers in this festive season is directly monitored and attended to by the officials in the least possible time.

It said the drive also is intended towards ensuring the “highest level” of cleanliness on its premises.

The services of the Delhi Metro, which started operations in 2002, is today

availed by nearly 30 lakh passengers daily, according to the DMRC.

Presently, its network consists of about 218.17 km with 164 stations along with six more stations of the Airport Express Link.

The network has now crossed the boundaries of Delhi to reach Noida and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and Gurgaon and Faridabad in Haryana.

The DMRC at present has 235 train sets of four, six and eight coaches, according to the information on its website.

Prime Minister to inaugurate Hyderabad Metro Rail on Nov 28

It is confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has agreed to inaugurate the first phase of the Hyderabad Metro Rail project on November 28.

According to the sources, the official letter in this regard is going to reach the Telangana government on Monday.

The confirmation came through following the report submitted by the Union Urban Development Ministry whose team of officials gave an approval on the project after the inspection in Hyderabad.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had written a letter to the Prime Minister on September 6 requesting him to launch the Metro Rail service in Hyderabad.

The Metro Rail project is one of the biggest public-private partnership project in the country is being constructed on a 72-km stretch encompassing three corridors spread across Hyderabad.

PM Modi will launch a 30 km stretch of the metro rail project extending from Nagole to Miyapur on November 28.

Officials are making test run between Mettuguda-Begumpet and sources say that the complete test run will be completed in 15 days.

China Delays High-Speed Train Project For Chennai-Bengaluru

An ambitious high speed train project in south India has been delayed after the Chinese railways that completed a feasibility study a year ago, did not respond, railway officials have said.

Officials claim the “lack of response” may be due to the Doklam standoff.

An internal brief of the Mobility Directorate on the status of nine high-speed projects of the railways, accessed by news agency PTI, shows that the 492 km Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor lies in limbo because the Chinese railways has failed to respond to the ministry’s communiques.

The ministry officials suggest that the recent standoff between the two countries in Bhutan’s Doklam area between June 16 and August 28 this year seems to have derailed the project. “The study began in 2014 and they submitted the report in 2016. The entire cost was borne by them. In fact they have shown so much interest in collaborating with us for other projects as well, so we think that it was the standoff that must have raised doubts,” said a senior rail official.

The brief also states that the Railway Board has been unable to get in touch with officials of China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC) despite repeated communications sent to them via mails in the last six months. “We have even tried to get in touch with them through their Embassy here, but we are yet to hear from them,” said an official.

Troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The brief, prepared by the department in charge of all the high speed corridors, also states that except the Chinese roadblock, work on the eight other projects was on track.

China has shown interest in the high-speed train projects in India. Apart from showing interest in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed network, that was finally bagged by Japan, Beijing has also pitched for the bullet project in the Mumbai-Delhi sector, which is yet to be finalised.

China is also training railway engineers in heavy hauling and it is with Chinese collaboration that India is setting up its first railway university.

The Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore corridor is one of nine such high speed corridors being developed by the ministry. The aim was to increase the speed from the present 80 kmph to 160 kmph.

While the Delhi-Agra route was made operational in 2016 with the country’s fastest train Gatimaan Express running between the two cities, the work on rest seven of eight of 8 is going at a fast pace, the brief indicated.

Policy flip-flops in Railways and CIL hits supplies to Power Sector

After more than a year, Indian Railways and Coal India are witnessing high demand for fuel from the power sector. Coal sales increased 15-16 per cent in August and September. Yet the two entities is not happy.

Emphasis on the power sector is bad for the CIL balance-sheet. This is because the miner gets 20 per cent higher price from non-power customers like steel, cement and others.

And over the last two months, its supplies to the power sector increased from roughly 82 per cent to 92 per cent. Even the most profitable open market sales have nearly stopped as CIL failed to offer much coal to the platform. The result may be felt in terms of lower margin in the July-September quarterly results.

CIL and Railways could step up supplies to the power sector but its production and marketing plan suffered fresh uncertainties.

The miner is expecting the situation to improve in October as the loading rate is set to improve from 215 a day to 235 a day in a week’s time.

History repeats

In the past, CIL used to direct nearly 30 per cent of its total sales to this segment. The ratio tilted in favour of power nearly four years ago, when the power sector was hit by fuel crisis.

The fuel crisis was a result of the greed and wrong policy prescriptions on the part of the then UPA government which ignored many alarms to recklessly enhance the generation capacity. CIL paid the price. It squeezed supplies to every customer to keep the power sector happy.

After coming to power, the Narendra Modi government went a step ahead. Open market sales were suspended throwing many ferroalloys companies, especially in Odisha, in great uncertainty.

Though the policy was reversed in the last year and more coal pumped into the open market; CIL had a hard time to get its customers back.

Coal supplies need strong logistics support which cannot be created overnight. Non-power customers found imports a more dependable option. The meltdown in energy commodity prices too helped the move.

The government’s decision to spare a potentially more polluting high-sulphur petroleum coke from carbon tax vis-a-vis four times rise in clean energy cess on coal from ₹100 a tonne to ₹400 a tonne, further tilted the game away from coal.

Cement makers started using petroleum coke not only for kiln operations but also for captive power generation. But just when CIL was trying to rebuild this market, the current crisis struck. And CIL has no one but the power sector to blame.

Spreading uncertainty

Between 2007 and 2017, India’s power generation capacity has doubled riding on thermal power capacity growth. It was expected that the plant-load factor of the sector will improve from 79 per cent to 85per cent during the period.

The reverse happened. PLF declined consistently to 60 per cent in FY17, indicating huge over-capacity running into 40-50 GW.

According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), as of July 2017, the all-India PLF was barely 55 per cent.

Open market tariff was an unremunerative ₹2.5 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and private sector generators were facing techno-feasibility constraints to run plants at barely 55 per cent PLF. To reduce costs, they stopped storing coal for the monsoon.

A sudden upturn in demand for thermal electricity beginning mid-August, led to a rush for coal causing a disruption in the entire system.

Alstom presents first Prima passenger locomotive for Azerbaijan Railways

The first of 10 Prima M4 electric passenger locomotives for national railway ADY was unveiled at Alstom’s Belfort factory in France on October 9.

ALSTOM managing director for west and central Asia Mr Bernard Peille presented the first of 10 type AZ4A Prima passenger locomotives for Azerbaijan Railways (ADY) to ADY deputy chairman Mr Hijran Valehov at the manufacturer’s plant in Belfort, France, on October 9.

Speaking at the unveiling, ADY Deputy Chairman Hijran Valehov said important steps were being taken to modernise the operator’s locomotive fleet.

Alstom is building the 10 Type AZ4A passenger locomotives under a contract awarded by ADY on May 12 2014. The AZ4A is part of the manufacturer’s Prima M4 family, adapted to meet ADY’s specifications and the 1520mm-gauge locomotive is certified in accordance with Euro-Asian Council for Standardisation, Metrology and Certification GOST standards. The locomotives are intended to operate at a maximum speed of 160 km/h under 3 kV DC on the north–south corridor and 25 kV 50 Hz electrification on the east–west corridor.

The AZ4A is designed to offer longer intervals between servicing than older ADY locomotives, with lower power consumption and maintenance costs.

‘We are very pleased to deliver our first multipurpose Prima locomotive to Azerbaijan and become a part of ambitious projects to increase transit links between the Black and Caspian seas and between Russia and Iran’, said Bernard Peille, Alstom Managing Director for Western & Central Asia Cluster. ‘This technologically tailor-made product is the result of a solid relationship of trust between Alstom’s and ADY’s project teams.’

In May 2014 ADY awarded Alstom a €288m contract to supply 50 type KZ8A double-unit electric freight locomotives, but the order was amended to 40 freight locomotives and 10 passenger units the following year. The order was financed through a loan from a consortium of Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and the French branch of HSBC.

Railways ignores speed restriction on 252 old bridges in bad shape, violates its own norms

In a major safety lapse, Railway has found that out of 275 railway bridges across the country that need rebuilding for they are very old, speed restrictions for trains to pass through has been put only on 23 bridges. What poses a big threat to safe train operations is that trains continue to pass with usual speed on other 252 bridges that are in bad shape.

The Railway Board had sought details of bridges and it was observed that large number of bridges needing rehabilitation existed on some zonal railways since long. The Central Railways has 61 bridges, East Central Railways 63, South Central Railways 41 and Western Railways 42 bridges pending rebuilding.

“It is also observed that in most of the cases, no speed restriction has been imposed and special inspection schedule has also not been prescribed by chief bridge engineers. On the other hand, there are many bridges where speed restrictions have been imposed on condition basis but they are not categorized under ORN-1 or 2 categories,” said the order issued by A K Singhal, Executive Director Civil Engineering.

The railway bridges are divided in three categories – overall rating number 1, 2, 3. Bridges with overall rating number (ORN-1) rating require immediate rebuilding/rehabilitation, ORN-2 ratings are required to be rebuilt on the programmed basis while ORN-3 bridges require special repairs.

Railway Board has now pulled up zonal railways for failing to do a time bound planning for completing the rehabilitation work.

“It seems that proper time bound planning has not been done by railways for rehabilitation of these bridges which creates a doubt whether correct condition rating appropriate to the actual condition of the bridge has been assigned or not. It is also felt that there has been lack of due diligence at Division/headquarter level while revising/confirming the rating,” said Singhal in the order issued last month.

Railway Board has said that the chief bridge engineers (CBEs) should specifically review the position in respect of all bridges assigned in their respective railways and firm up the action plan for their rehabilitation on priority.

A CAG report in 2015 had found that delays in sanctioning of bridgeworks and completion of sanctioned bridgeworks resulted in operation of train services with speed restriction.

The Railways violated its own guidelines on foot-overbridges (FOBs) at stations which it had formulated in 2012-13 in the case of the one at Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai where a stampede occurred last month killing 22 people and leaving 33 injured. The breadth of the bridge was half what it should have been.

According to the standards that were set in 2012-13, the FOBs should have a breadth of 10 metres. But the breadth of the FOB at Elphinstone Road station is 4.5 metres. The schedule of dimensions which is issued by the Railway Board from time to time gives the standards that are to be followed for construction of FOBs and other infrastructure. “This schedule gives the ideal size of the infrastructure that has to be constructed at the railway stations and this is improved over time,” said a senior Railway official.

According to the official, FOB is a passenger amenity and it is still not considered a safety issue. Therefore the safety circular which is issued to all the chief safety officers will not include FOBs. “Safety circular is meant for operations of trains,” said the official.

FOBs  inside railway stations as well as at the entry and exit points are a responsibility of the Railways. In the past eight years, the Railways have sanctioned 36 FOBs for the Mumbai suburban railway. Out of these 22 have been constructed.

Railway officials said there is regular inspection of all the infrastructure at the general manager and divisional railway manager level. But the issue of the narrow FOB at Elphinstone Road station and vulnerability of people was apparently never raised. A survey of footfall at the station, an indicator of over-strained infrastructure, was also never carried out.

Now a new FOB has been sanctioned at the Elphinstone Road station by the GM Western Railways at a cost of Rs 10 crore. It is to be constructed parallel to the old FOB and will meet the standards that have been set by the Railways in 2012-2013. “The old FOB will not be destroyed as it will be a tedious task. Instead a new FOB will be constructed,” said the Railway official.

Illegal hawkers who encroach on the FOBs in the Mumbai suburban railway network have been blamed for the stampede. A campaign has been started to drive out the illegal hawkers which is being conducted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP).

It further said that instances of continued operation of speed restriction were noticed on 87 bridges of 13 zones ranging between four to 591 months. Audit assessed an extra expenditure of Rs 103.40 crore on account of operational cost due to continuation of speed restrictions.

“The above demonstrates the casual approach on part of Railways in sanctioning/executing and monitoring of bridgeworks. This resulted in delay in execution of bridgeworks that were identified for rehabilitation leaving the possibility of compromising passenger safety during operation of train services on these bridges. Railways need to ensure an effective monitoring system to be in place for timely execution and completion of bridgeworks,” the CAG report has added.

More than 100 footover bridges (FOBs) along Mumbai’s busiest suburban railway lines — Central and Western — fall in the top three fatal zones which require urgent attention, an internal Railways survey shows.

The list of dangerous bridges collated by the Railways shows that there are 61 bridges on the Central Railways (CR) and 42 bridges on the Western Railways that require urgent repair, DNA reported.

The East Central Railway zone with 63 bridges that need repairs are the most fatal zones. The report said that one of the bridges in the Lucknow Division, under the Northern Railway, is in a precarious condition and needs to be immediately rebuilt.

Western Railway officials did not confirm if the Elphinstone Road FOB was a part of the list. On September 29, 23 passengers were killed and 36 were injured in a deadly rush-hour stampede that occurred on a narrow foot overbridge connecting the Elphinstone Road railway station to Parel station.

The report stated that the Railway Board had issued a letter to 16 zones on Indian Railways where they had identified 275 railway bridges that need to be built immediately on September 21, a week before the stampede.

In 2017-18, the railways plan to come together to rehabilitate 114 bridges, of which CR will rebuild 20 bridges and WR will rebuild 13 bridges.

”It seems that proper time-bound planning has not been done by the railways for rehabilitation of these bridges. This creates a doubt whether the correct rating, appropriate to the actual condition, of the bridge, has been assigned or not,” states the letter.

Earlier, the Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had called for innovation in making the railways safer while stressing that enough money is available for the purpose.

“The railway minister has asked the zones not to worry about funds as far as work on safety is concerned. And so work on rehabilitating and rebuilding these railway bridges will be expedited,” AK Saxena, Director General (PR), Railway Board said.

The letter also stated that the field officers in charge of maintaining and studying the health of railway bridges need to be educated by the Chief Bridge Engineers so that the officer can determine the correct condition of bridges and take necessary remedial measures for safe movement of trains.

Indian Railways to ramp up production of LHB Coaches

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways plans to increase Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coach production sharply this year and has ordered 80,000 biotoilets as part of its safety and cleanliness drive.

“A decision has been taken to sharply increase LHB coach production,” AK Goel, DG-Stores, said on the sidelines of an international conference on technological advancements in rail and metro projects here.

Switch-over to LHB

Shailendra Singh, Chief Rolling Stock Engineer, Northern Railway, said a decision had been taken to produce 5,000 LHB coaches this year. At present, there are around 51,000 Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) coaches and 5,500 LHB coaches made in the Kapurthala factory.

“It has been decided to completely switch over to manufacture LHB coaches from April 1, 2018 onward,” he added.

Railways had already take a decision shift to LHB coaches, but increasing production requires a sharp ramp up from the present annual coach production target of 2,435. The vendor capacity also needs to be increased accordingly.

Addressing the conference, Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Coal, said: “We must work to see whether we can design better coaches, better locomotives, better signalling system and other related activity. We must explore cooperation with Military Engineering Service. Indian Railways need to work with commitment to make the railways safe, secure and to offer better amenities, riding comfort, punctuality and efficiency.”

‘Adopt latest tech’

Earlier in the day, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said Railways needed to plan for a massive expansion very meticulously with forward-looking, efficient technologies and innovative practices currently available across the globe and adopt them.

“Indian Railways will have to plan for this massive expansion meticulously. It will have to look for technologies and innovative practices currently available across the globe,” he said.

ICF rolls out Indigenous LHB Coach

The Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, a premium railway production unit here, has rolled out the first indigenously manufactured Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) coach. The technology for these coaches was acquired in 1995 by railways from Linke-Hofmann-Busch, a German company.

Although, ICF produced its first LHB coach in 2013, it was manufactured using imported materials. Over the years, the factory has been gradually reducing its import requirement with locally made substitutes. As the final step, the import of under-carriage materials has now been stopped. “We have thus been able to reduce the cost by around Rs.2.25 lakh per coach,” said a factory official.

At present, each LHB coach costs Rs.2.5 crore, which is estimated to be less than half of its original import cost.

The ICF General Manager Sudhanshu Mani inspected two LHB coaches with 100 per cent indigenous content, one a three-tier AC coach and the other a second sleeper compartment. These two coaches, he said, were to promote ‘Make in India’ efforts.

It has been proved that LHB coaches do not climb over one another during collision or derailment. Faced with a spate of accidents involving conventional coaches, the ministry had decided to replace them with LHB type.

“Coach No. LACCN 111 and LSDD 166 with 100% indigenous content was flagged off after inspection from Member Rolling Stock of the Railway Board,” an ICF official told FE Online. Out of the two ‘Make in India’ coaches that have been rolled out by ICF, the non-AC one has 100% indigenous components. The AC coach has one imported component. “The non-AC coaches are fitted with wheel disc manufactured at Rail Wheel Factory at Bangalore. The AC coach has an imported wheel that has been assembled at ICF with some value added component,” the ICF official said.

Asked about how soon the AC coaches will also have 100% indigenous components, the official said, “Member Rolling Stock has said that talks are on with local manufacturers. We should be able to zero in on someone soon. Once that happens, the AC coaches too will have all indigenous components.”

Given the spate of rail accidents over the last year, Indian Railways has decided to stop production of traditional ICF coaches in 2017. Now, ICF Chennai will make only LHB coaches. LHB coaches boast of stainless steel bodies and have anti-climbing features. This ensures that in case of a derailment, the coaches do not pile onto each other, hence making them safer. The LHB coaches also have a graduated release modular braking system the axle mounted disc brakes.

But, will all of them be 100% ‘Make in India’? Not yet, that’s a gradual process, says the ICF official. “We have been asked to almost double our production of LHB coaches, so 100% ‘Make in India’ will take some time to be absorbed completely,” he says, adding that focus is on meeting the twin goals of safety and ‘Make in India’.

Meanwhile, ICF is also working on project ‘Train-2018’ – a technological leap for the coach factory under which ‘Make in India’ self-propelled train sets will be manufactured. The ‘first of its kind’ semi-high speed self-propelled train set has been proposed for inter-city superfast travel.

Mission Indradhanush, Immunization Drive Conducted at Central Railway Hospital, Secunderabad

An Intensified Immunization vaccination drive “Mission Indradhanush Programme” was conducted at Central Hospital, Lallaguda on 08.10.2017. The programme was inaugurated by Dr. K.H.K Dora, Chief Medical Director, SCR.

The aim of this mission is to identify the unimmunised and partially immunised children and immunise them against 7 preventable diseases under cover of Universal Immunisation Programme including pregnant women also.  A team of Paramedical staff were sent to Railway Colonies and surrounding areas to educate parents about this mission and to identify drop out children and immunise them. Wide publicity was given in Railway Colonies and Workshops regarding the programme. Railway Employee Children’s and Outsiders were also vaccinated.

Dr.T.S.R.Murthy, Medical Director; Dr. C.K.Venkateswarlu, Chief Health Director; Dr. S. K. Mahapatra, Chief Physician; Senior Doctors and Nursing staff of Central Hospital, Lallaguda Secunderabad were also present and conducted the program.

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