Indian Railways News

Railways to give Wagon Contracts in bulk to meet Future Demand

In a move that could bring cheer to rail wagon makers, the railway ministrywill tweak tendering norms for wagon procurement that will provide clarity on the demand from the national transporter for the next five years.

The ministry has decided to give wagon contracts in bulk with demand of five years with bucket filling. It will conduct reverse e-auction and intends to save 20-25% in cost, a top rail ministry official said. The Indian Railways procures 12,000 wagons per annum, costing around Rs 3,500 crore.

“Instead of going for piece-meal tenders, we will go for bulk tenders where the lowest bidder would be given an option to provide for railway’s future demands at the same price. This will give vendors a future outlook and they will benefit from economies of scale along with offering the lowest price to us,” the official said.

During the Infrastructure Roundtable in January, various rail vendors, including Titagarh Wagons Ltd, had sought more clarity on future rail contracts from Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani. Companies such as Texmaco Rail and Engineering, Titagarh Wagons, Jindal Rail and Jupiter Wagons, which are the railway’s largest wagon providers, are likely to benefit from this decision.

The ministry has also decided to carry out all railway procurement and contracts under the reverse auction route through electronic mode. The railways has been following a ‘two packets system of tendering’ for procurement, a system considered less transparent by experts. Under this system, tender quotations are submitted in two sealed envelopes, one containing the technical and commercial offers and the other the financial bids. Such a physical system of bidding has loopholes and potential for rigging, experts say.

The same tendering system will also be followed for other bulk contracts that the railways intends to give, including the upcoming signalling overhauling contract of the country’s entire rail route length of 120,000 km and the contracts for electrification, elevators at stations and CCTVs.

Indian Railways incurs Rs.4000 Crore loss in three years by running Mumbai Locals

Amidst a major push for expansion of the suburban Mumbai rail network in the Union Budget, the government today informed Parliament that the national transporter has incurred a loss of more than Rs 4,000 crore in the last three years in running the Mumbai locals.

In a written reply in Lok Sabha today, Minister of State for Railways Raen Gohain said that since 2014-2017, railways had incurred a loss of Rs 4280.50 crore by running the suburban rail network in Mumbai.

“Indian Railway is incurring losses by running local train services in metropolitan areas of Mumbai. In the last three years, while the total earnings was Rs 5206.16 crore, the expenditure was Rs 9486.66 crore and the loss was of Rs 4280.50 crore,” Gohain said.

In Budget 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the expansion of the Mumbai suburban train network, spread over 465km, at a cost of Rs 11,000 crore, and said the government also planned to allocate an additional Rs 40,000 crore for the city’s rail network.

The suburban railway in Mumbai operates 2,342 local train services and carries more than 7.5 million commuters daily, and this is the first time that the network is being expanded in a big way.

Gohain informed the House that while in 2014-2015, the national transporter lost Rs 1426.19 crore, the next year, it lost Rs 1477.55 crore and in 2016-2017, the railways incurred a loss of Rs 1376.76 crore.

Railways to invest Rs.75000 Crore on Signalling System project: Piyush Goyal

The Indian Railways would invest Rs 75,000 crore on a signalling systemproject to be implemented across India, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said.

“We will bring the most modern technology of European Train Control System (ETCS) in India and it will be implemented across the country. It will ensure safe journey,” he told reporters here.

He said the South Western Railway officials have prepared the pre-feasibility report for the long-pending Bengaluru suburban railway and come up with a Rs 12,000 crore investment plan.

Goyal said 68 km of the 160 km suburban railway network will be elevated. In addition, the Railways would invest Rs 5,000 crore for upgrading the stations and for bringing in the most modern locomotives rail coaches.

He said he had written to the Karnataka chief minister in January that instead of 80-20 ratio of cost sharing between Karnataka government and Railways, where Karnataka’s share would be 80 per cent, he has proposed a 50-50 cost sharing.

“We can do a cost sharing of 50-50 between the state government and the Indian railways and against that, they (state governmen) can allow us to increase the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) or Floor Space Index (FSI) of all our stations to five, so that we can raise some revenue by developing the stations, making them modern and passenger friendly.”

Replying to a query on the delay in trains, the minister said the delay in track renewal work was earlier hampering the speed of trains.

He said when the track is damaged and not replaced, safety is compromised and speed restriction is imposed slowing down the train.

Earlier 233 km of tracks were renewed every month but in December 2017, railways did 476 km of track renewal, he said.

“In January, 2018, railways did 576 km of track renewal and in February we did 560 km … That is the scale-up to make the Indian Railways safer. With this, all the speed restriction will go away and we will have faster trains,” Goyal said.

When asked about the Railways’ stand on the controversial Thalessery-Mysuru railway line, he said, “I am given to understand that there is lot of opposition to this line because it passes through very, very eco-sensitive wildlife areas and environment can be damaged.”

“In that situation, if it is not in the interest of Karnataka, we will certainly not like to damage eco-sensitive zone or the wildlife area. In that case, Indian Railways has no particular interest that this project has to be pursued.”

The Union minister also inaugurated an all women railway station at Banaswadi in Bengaluru, the fifth one in the country.

He also launched a mechanized laundry with a capacity to wash 10,000 bed rolls everyday.

Goyal also released a booklet ‘New Railways, New Karnataka‘ which showcases the work done by the South Western Railway since 2014.

Karnataka yet to respond to Centre’s 50:50 cost-sharing offer: Piyush Goyal

The state government is yet to respond to the Centre’s proposal to go for 50:50 cost-sharing in Bengaluru suburban railway project, in return for granting of FAR 5 (floor area ratio) for commercial development railway stations in the city.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday that the Centre was willing to extend all support for the project, provided the Siddaramaiah-led government reciprocated.

Earlier, the Centre had agreed to 80:20 cost-sharing with the state, bearing the higher cost and later suggested that it will bear half of the cost.

“We wrote to the chief minister in January seeking a generous FAR so that the railways can use the property commercially by raising five-storey structures. We are yet to get any response,” said Goyal. The railway ministry said the Centre usually bears 20% of the cost in suburban railway projects, and the rest has to come from the state. But the ministry, the minister said, appreciated Karnataka’s tight financial position, and hence offered to chip in with half the project cost in return for grant of FAR of five times as has been done in Mumbai.

The railways, the minister said, has begun survey work on the proposed 160-km of Bengaluru suburban rail network using drones which will not only speed up the work, but will also be a better guide on alignments and other aspects. The railways will spend Rs 12,000 crore on this project, and invest another Rs 5,000 crore on modern locos and coaches for Bengaluru.


The railways will launch the first phase of the coaching terminal at Byappanahalli with three platforms and four pit lines by December this year, and complete the second phase of opening new platforms and pit lines by December next year. The city has two coaching terminals — the City railway station and Yeshwantpur. The upcoming coaching terminal will help railways introduce new trains to and from Bengaluru which can commence and terminate at Byappanahalli. The larger plan of transforming the station into a world-class one will take some more time, the minister said.

The Minister also launched eight new local services including one pair between Byappanahalli and Whitefield, one pair between Byappanahalli and the city railway station and two pairs between Hosur and Banaswadi.

Pininfarina Eyes Growth from Railways, Real Estate and Infrastructure Development in India

Mahindra group-owned automotive design firm Pininfarina is eyeing opportunities in sectors like railways, real estate and infrastructure development in India to strengthen the non-automotive business.

The Turin-based company generates majority of its revenues from the automotive sector.

“We want to have balanced revenues between automotive and non automotive verticals,” Pininfarina CEO Silvio Pietro Angori told PTI at the Geneva Motor Show.

The company needs to lookout for verticals where there is highest opportunity for growth and wherever it can make a difference, he said.

“We don’t want to be me too company. We don’t want to go to verticals where we can’t make a difference,” Angori said.

In India, the company is looking at sectors like infrastructure development, transportation and real estate via its architecture arm which currently accounts for just 5 percent if its revenues globally.

“We see one of the verticals expanding in India, transportation business, the railways business. Infrastructure work in India is one of the targets we have. Also real estate including private housing,” Angori said.

He further said: “Transportation, private housing, railways in general terms these are the domains in which we see the largest opportunities.”

When asked about the kind of services the company would like to offer in India, Angori said: “Imagine metro stations, buildings and skyscrapers.”

The company’ architectural division has designed residential houses, government buildings at various locations in the US, Brazil, Hong Kong and Singapore, he added.

“We have done Istanbul airport tower control. We do that kind of stuff. India needs infrastructure and therefore we are looking into that segment,” Angori said.

On the automotive business, he said the company’s focus is on sustainable mobility domain — electric and hybrid vehicles.

“Today 75 percent of the projects we have are in sustainable mobility domain…we have around dozen of different projects in the segment currently,” Angori said.

In 2015, Mahindra group had announced to acquire Pininfarina for an overall outgo of over 50 million after months of negotiations.

Tech Mahindra owns around 76 percent stake in Pininfarina.

China moots proposal bringing Iran-Armenia Rail Line under “One Belt, One Road” program

China is keenly examining the project designed to build a rail link between Armenia and Iran and expressed its interest for bringing it into its fold under “One Belt, One Road” project. This was announced by Jian Aiming, the head of the Department for Eurasian Affairs of the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, in a meeting with Armenia’s Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology Vahan Martirosyan.

Aiming was quoted as saying in a press release that China’s Ministry of Commerce would discuss the inclusion of this project in the “One Belt, One Road” program. He added that after the discussions were over, the corporation would be ready to conduct a feasibility study of the project.

Martirosyan stressed that the rail construction is of strategic importance for Armenia and expressed readiness to discuss this issue with China’s trade minister.

The agreement on the construction of the rail link was approved by Armenian and Iranian governments in 2009. In 2012, the Dubai-based Rasia FZE Investment Company was granted a 50-year concession by the Armenian government to build and manage the 305-kilometer railroad from Armenia to Iran, to be named the Southern Armenian Railway.

By late 2013, Rasia FZE developed a feasibility study for the project, estimated to cost $3.5 billion. The high cost is explained by mountainous terrain through which it is supposed to pass. Specifically, the 305-km-long railroad was to cross 64 bridges spanning 19.6 km and 60 tunnels extending over 102.3 kilometers.

The Armenian government said the railroad was to run from Gagarin Station in Armenia’s Gegharkunik Province to Agarak in southern Syunik and may transport cargo totaling 25 million tons a year. It was also said to provide the shortest transportation route from the ports of the Black Sea to the ports of the Persian Gulf and establish a major commodities transit corridor between Europe and the Persian Gulf region.

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Ltd. was established in June 1979 under the approval of the Chinese State Council. Its business scope expands from international contracting for railroad construction to civil engineering design and consultancy, real estate development, trading, industrial investment and hotel management as well.

The business activities of CCECC have expanded to over 40 countries and regions where more than 20 overseas offices or subsidiaries have been established.

The One Belt and One Road initiative is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily China, the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the oceangoing 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.

The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network. It was unveiled by Xi Jinping in September and October 2013 for SREB and MSR respectively.

Indian Private Power Producers fumes over poor Coal supply

Private power producers in the country are irked by their experience in procuring coal under the Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala Transparently in India (SHAKTI). According to the players, the supply of coal has been far from satisfactory.

SHAKTI is the new methodology approved by the government to centralise the process of allocating coal to thermal power plants. The policy was approved in May last year and there had been one round of bids under the scheme for coal-based power plants with power purchase agreements in September. But industry players allege that the winners have not been getting the desired coal supplies even months after being awarded the bids.

However, Mr Susheel Kumar, Secretary, Coal Ministry, brushes aside the allegations, saying that before competing for a Power Purchase Agreement, the companies will have an idea at what cost they will get coal. Mr Kumar said that “This will allow them to make a more informed bid for supplying power.”

Refuting allegations that there was delay in supplies, Kumar said that “According to the SHAKTI policy, power companies will have to get their PPAs amended within 45 days to factor in the lowered cost of coal attained after bids. Some winners then approached the government seeking a relaxation in deadline to 90 days, citing delays in getting their PPAs updated at the regulators.

Mr Kumar added that “We even allowed the winners to start taking the promised coal if the state governments give a guarantee that the lowered coal costs will be passed on in the form of lower tariffs.” Mr Ashok Khurana, Director-General of the Association of Power Producers, said that “The Coal India approach of taking advance payment for all e-auction coal under rail/road mode without committing to any assured supply has resulted in outgo of huge cash from (power plant developers) without translating into coal supply. This has resulted in huge advance accumulation of funds, thus creating cash flow problems for already stressed projects without any visibility or plan of coal supply.”

NMPT Container-handling count crosses 1-lakh mark

he number of containers handled at New Mangalore Port crossed 1 lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) on February 26 during the current financial year.

The port handled 1,00,666 TEUs of containers till February 26 of 2017-18 as against 82,169 TEUs in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, recording a growth of 22.51 per cent. The port handled 94,939 TEUs in 2016-17.

‘Significant achievement’

Suresh P Shirwadkar, Chairman in-charge of New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), termed this growth as a significant achievement towards the development of container traffic at the port.

Increase in the handling of cargoes such as coffee, raw cashew, gherkins, machinery, polypropylene granules and chemicals contributed immensely to achieving this growth in terms of TEUs, he said.

The port is witnessing a steady growth in container traffic mainly due to its business promotion initiatives. Infrastructure works such as expansion of container yards and increase in the number of reefer plug points, and ‘ease of doing business’ initiatives have also contributed for this growth, he said.

These initiatives have fostered the container movement to the port from the hinterland. The port, which handled 9,646 TEUs during 2005-06, is now handling more than 1 lakh TEUs of containers.

He said that increase in the frequency of calls by feeder-line container vessels, competitive ocean freight offered by mainline container operators, and the option of three ports for transhipment of cargo have helped reduce transit time for containers.

The stabilisation of frequency of schedules of the vessels and harmonious industrial relationship have enabled in establishing the reliability of services over the neighbouring ports, he said.

CONCOR Operations

The Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) has commenced its operation from its Inland Container Depot in Bengaluru to NMPT. At present, CONCOR operates a weekly train service from Bengaluru to Mangaluru and vice versa.

A railway siding for CONCOR was commissioned on January 31.This initiative will further boost the connectivity and transportation of containers on railway network, he added.

New Siemens “Smartron” Locomotive for Germany

Siemens is offering a new locomotive for service in Germany. The Smartron is tailored for a specific transport function and utilises all the advantages provided by standardisation.

As a pre-configured locomotive, the Smartron has been conceived for transporting freight in Germany and ensures customers cost-efficient operation and the highest safety standards. The Smartron has already received approval for operating in Germany. The locomotives can now be ordered and will be delivered beginning late in 2018. The first locomotive of the new series is immediately available to customers for test runs and demonstration.

“With the new Smartron, we’re offering our customers a powerful and reliable locomotive that is configured for specific operations, making possible a simple purchase process. One standard version, one standard contract, one standard price – that’s the idea behind the Smartron,” says Sabrina Soussan, CEO of the Mobility Division at Siemens.

The Smartron is based on proven components of the Vectron, which has already demonstrated its reliability in over 100 million kilometres of operation. The locomotive has a maximum output of 5.6 MW and a top speed of 140km/h. It operates on the standard 1,435 mm gauge and weighs around 83 tonnes. The Smartron is designed for the 15-kV AC power system and is equipped with the PZB/LZB train protection system. The locomotive will be delivered in the standard colour “Capri Blue.”

Israel Railways and Siemens sign EMU Contract

ISRAEL Railways (IR) and Siemens signed a contract worth more than $US 1bn on March 7 for the delivery of 60 Desiro HC regional EMUs over the next 10 years. A contract worth up to €900m for Siemens to supply to Israel Railways with up to 60 four-car and six-car Desiro HC double-deck electric multiple-units over 10 years was signed in Lod on March 7.

The initial tranche of 24 trains comprises six four-car and 18 six-car sets, each formed of two single-deck driving cars and two or four double-deck intermediate vehicles. This includes a firm order for the supply of an initial six four-car and 18 six-car EMUs and the provision of 15 years of maintenance at a purpose-built depot in Ashkelon.

There are further options for maintenance. The overall fleet of 60 trains is valued at $US 910m. Siemens will build a new maintenance centre at Ashkelon at a cost of $US 65.3m and maintain the first 24 trains in a 15-year deal worth $US 113.6m.

‘This order is strategically important for us in two respects’, said Sabrina Soussan, CEO of Siemens’ Mobility Division. Siemens has previously supplied hauled stock to ISR, but now ‘for the first time in our company’s history, we will be delivering complete trains to Israel’, Soussan said. ‘And also for the first time, we’ve sold our innovative Desiro HC train platform outside Germany.’

Alstom, Bombardier Transportation, Hitachi Rail Italy, Siemens, Škoda Transportation and Stadler had submitted best and final offers for the EMU contract, which has been awarded as part of ISR’s 25 kV 50 Hz electrification programme. Siemens was named preferred bidder in September 2017, subject to final approval from the Ministry of Economy.