Indian Railways News

Railways on alert as Gurjars threaten agitation from May 15

Indian Railways has been put on alert in view of yet another annual Gurjar agitation set to begin from May 15.

It has taken pre-emptive steps in view of Gurjar supremo Kirori Singh Bainsla’s announcement for a mahapanchyat on May 15 which is likely to be held near a track in Bharatpur district.

Railway has ordered six of railway protection force companies to be deployed along Delhi-Mumbai and Jaipur-Agra rail tracks at Byana, Hindaun, Bharatpur on Kota Divison of WCR, Jaipur on WCR and Agra Division of NCR.

Come summer and Gurjars of this region are notorious to organise agitations that focuses on disrupting rail traffic for days.

In 2007 and 2008, their agitation had led to the loss of more than 70 lives and properties worth hundreds of crores in arson and violence.

Gurjars resort to agitation every year and despite successive governments promising them whatever they ask for, nothing is done on the ground because of their ultra constitutional demands.

As a result, Bainsla has lost most of his credibility. He has been aligning with Congress and BJP according to his convenience.

Gurjars began with a demand to be included in Scheduled Tribes but powerful Meena community, which corners most of the ST reservation quota, did not let it happen.

Then Gurjars demanded that they be carved out a special category within existing OBC along with others of most backward classes but this time jats, who corner most of the OBC quota, did not let it happen.

Finally, Gurjars settled down for a special OBC status for which state government assured one per cent reservation from general quota so that it did not exceed 50 per cent and another five per cent through an amendment which has been repeatedly set aside or stayed by the courts.

Rajasthan badly needs to review castes that get ST and OBC reservations but fearing a backlash of these powerful castes, no government dares to do it.

As a result, lopsided reservation carries on.

If at all Bainsla wants to help Gurjars, he must then demand either a segregation within the reservation quota for the OBCs or shifted to ST category.

But since both are a mammoth task, he keeps arriving on agreements knowing well that these cannot be implemented only to harass the common man and put at risk life of Gurjars.

Sound of Bees to keep Elephants off Rail Tracks creating a Buzz

The sound of honeybees downloaded from the internet to keep elephants away from railway tracks has created quite a buzz after the novel idea introduced by the Northeast Frontier Railway brought down the number of accidents. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has this system in place across four of its divisions at select level crossings where elephant zones exist. The idea was implemented in late 2017 and this year only six elephants have died after colliding with a train. In 2013, the number of elephants killed was 19, in 2014 it was 5, in 2015, it was 12, in 2016, it was 9, while in 2017, it was 10.

“We installed this in Rangiya division and once it was successful we have installed it in other locations as well. This was started barely six months back,” said Lokesh Narayan, Additional General Manager, NFR. Unlike in Kenya, where boutique beehives are dangled from fences to keep elephants away, NFR uses an electronic “buzzer” to keep the animals at bay. While elephant-repulsion techniques such as the chili bomb and electric fences have been used earlier, this buzzing sound has been the most effective and cost-efficient.

It is a simple device that amplifies the recorded sound of honeybees downloaded from the internet. The device costs around Rs 2,000 to put together and is audible to an elephant 600 metres away. NFR covers northern West Bengal and parts of eastern Bihar besides the northeastern states. In fact, railways has put in place several measures to ensure elephants do not get killed in collision with trains. It has imposed 49 temporary speed restrictions of 20/25 kmph over a total of 109 km in different stretches.

“We have also created this WhatsApp group with forest officials for real time information sharing. This alerts the loco pilot in real time basis when elephants are spotted,” said Mr Narayan.

This project will be funded by Ministry of Environment and implemented by the Railways.

By 2020, Capitals of all Northeastern States to have Rail Connectivity

Indian Railway is likely to spend almost Rs 90,000 crore to improve connectivity in the northeast by 2020, including a 795-km railway line in Arunachal Pradesh that will provide accessibility right up to the China border, and connections between the capitals of all northeastern states.

While Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura are connected by rail, the capitals of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur, Sikkim and Nagaland are not. Of these, Mizoram capital Aizawl is likely to be connected first with the new line between Bhairabi and Sairang (51.38km) in advanced stage of construction.

“Sairang is approximately 18 km from Aizawl. We have no presence in Sikkim so far and to provide connectivity to Gangtok, work up to Rangpo has been sanctioned. Rangpo is around 40km short of Gangtok and work between Gangtok and Rangpo will be taken up in phase two,” said AK Yadav, chief construction officer in the north frontier railway. Indian Railways is waiting for a clearance for some of the other lines.

Progress in the Byrnihat-Shillong corridor in Meghalaya was affected due to opposition from the Khasi Student Union. The railway is yet to receive a no objection certificate for land acquisition, which has not been given so far by Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council.

In Sikkim, Indian Railways is awaiting clearance from the forest department but is hopeful of completing all the projects by 2020.

On the international front, close to China border, Railways has undertaken final land survey of three different lines and will submit the report to the Ministry of Defence.

“Owing to long international border, northeast region has huge requirement for providing railway network from strategic considerations. MoD has identified 14 projects across the country of which four were selected as priority corridors. Except for Pathankot-Leh, the other three projects fall in the northeast region,” Yadav added.

NFR submits studies to extend rail connectivity to Bhutan

The Northeast Frontier Railway has submitted feasibility studies to the Ministry of External Affairs to extend rail connectivity to Bhutan, officials said today.

At present, there is no rail link between the two countries.

The five feasible rail link routes include a 57 km line from Kokhrajhar (Assam) to Gelephu (Bhutan), a 51.15 km line from Pathsala (Assam) to Nanglam (Bhutan), a 48 km line from Rangiya (Assam) to Samdrupjongkjar (Bhutan), a 23 km line between West Bengal’s Banarhat to Samtse in Bhutan and a 17.52 km line between Hasimara in West Bengal to Phuentsholing in Bhutan.

“At present there is no rail link to Bhutan. Feasibility study was carried out at five location and the report submitted to the MEA around a year ago. In fact, the study were conducted at their request. They now have to decide,” a senior official of NFR said.

As part of the Centre’s Act East policy to boost ties with South Asian neighbours through North Eastern region, the Indian Railways has completed ground work for extending rail connectivity to Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Introduction of New Humsafar Weekly Express between Bhagat Ki Kothi – Tambaram (via Vijayawada)

Ministry of Railways approved introduction of new weekly Humsafar Express between Bhagat Ki Kothi (Jodhpur Division/North Western Railway) and Tambaram (Chennai Division/Southern Railway) stations. The Regular services will commence Ex. Bhagat Ki Kothi on 23rd May, 2018 and Ex. Tambaram on 18th May, 2018. The inaugural service will commence on 14th May, 2018 from Bhagat Ki Kothi to Tambaram stations. The details are given below:-

Inaugural Service on 14th May, 2018:

Accordingly, Train No. 04815 Bhagat Ki Kothi – Tambaram Humsafar special train will depart Bhagat Ki Kothi at 13:00 hrs on 14thMay, 2018 (Monday) and arrive Tambaram at 10:00 hrs on Wednesday.

Enroute, this train will stop at Jodhpur, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Kota, Guna, Ashok Nagar, Bina, Bhopal, Itarsi, Nagpur, Balharshah, Warangal, Vijayawada, Gudur and Chennai Egmore stations.

This train consists of all AC III Tier Coaches.

Regular Services:-

Train No. 14815 Bhagat Ki Kothi – Tambaram Humsafar Express will depart Bhagat Ki Kothi at 15:30 hrs from 23rd May, 2018 (Wednesdays) and arrive Tambaram at 10:45 hrs on Fridays.

In the opposite direction, Train No. 14816 Tambaram – Bhagat Ki Kothi Humsafar Express will depart Tambaram at 19:15 hrs from 18th May, 2018 (Fridays) and arrive Bhagat Ki Kothi at 19:30 hrs on Sundays.

Enroute, these trains will stop at Jodhpur, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Kota, Guna, Ashok Nagar, Bina, Bhopal, Itarsi, Nagpur, Balharshah, Warangal, Vijayawada, Gudur and Chennai Egmore stations in both the directions.

These trains consists of all AC III Tier Coaches.

Chennai Metro Rail testing Smart Cards on MTC Handheld Devices

After years of talking about it, the Chennai Metro Rail has started carrying out trials with its smart cards in the handheld electronic ticketing machines of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses. This means, in the near future, when the common ticketing system is implemented, commuters can use the Chennai Metro Rail’s smart cards in MTC buses too.

According to officials in the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), they have been testing the smart cards in the handheld devices for several months now.

“It has been working quite well and whatever minor issues that have cropped up have being resolved. We will discuss further on how common ticketing system can be implemented soon,” an official said.

The Chennai Metro Rail’s smart card has 30 slots, which means apart from the one slot that will be used for MTC buses, it can be used at various places such as retail stores or parking lots.

The idea is to make sure that commuters need to carry just one card that can be used anywhere, officials said.

Delayed for years

But it is not clear why common ticketing system has been delayed for years now. The first service of the Chennai Metro Rail started three years ago, but this system has till now not taken off. In two weeks, the fourth and fifth stretch of the Chennai Metro Rail from Nehru Park to Chennai Central and Saidapet to AG-DMS too will begin.

And when operations start in these stretches, officials said, the number of people travelling

Punctuality of Train services on SCR shows an upswing

South Central Railway, one of the foremost Zones in terms of punctuality performance on Indian Railways, has seen an upswing on this front in the last four years. The Zone which handles around 755 passenger carrying trains and 650 freight trains on an average each day, is critical to rail operations for Indian Railways, since SCRs network is the virtual gateway to the South of India from all other directions. Between 2014-17, the punctuality of mail/express trains was around 96%. In 2017-18, on account of priority accorded to safety of rail services and enhancing rail infra capacity, track maintenance and new infrastructure works were taken up on the Zone. This resulted in a temporary lessening of punctuality to around 92% during the year, which is now again showing a gradual increase to reach the optimal best.

Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway has initiated a stringent monitoring mechanism to keep track of the train movements on the entire network, on a 24 x 7 basis. Besides lending special focus to punctual movement of identified important trains monitored at the level of Railway Ministry, the General Manager himself has taken the onus to monitor several other identified important trains at his level. Instructions have gone from the General Manager to Senior Officials of the Zone to intensively keep track of all trains on run at various levels so as to ensure punctuality and identify any cause which affects the same for immediate remedial action.

With Safety on Indian Railways coming to the fore, Shri Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister of Railways has held the view that maintenance of tracks should be accorded top priority and works completed on a war footing. In addition, a huge thrust is being accorded by the rail ministry for undertaking construction of new railway lines, doubling/tripling of railway lines, electrification of the network and improvement to the rail infrastructure, so as to cater to the demands of the ever increasing rail traffic.

Keeping these factors in view, Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR drew up a concerted plan of action to undertake maintenance of Railway track on SCR’s network in a time bound manner, besides speeding up the works for new rail lines, doubling/tripling of rail lines, electrification of rail sections and other infra. The most vital factor for completing these developmental and upgradation works in a targeted time is the need to temporarily regulate train services for a few hours in identified sections to undertake the work, which slightly impacts the punctuality of train services. With a view to ensure that these temporary blockage of train movement for a short duration is efficiently utilized to complete the maintenance and other works and minimize inconvenience to rail passengers on account of slight delay in train services, the General Manager has drawn up a schedule for regular review meetings with the Principal Heads of Departments and Divisional Railway Managers on the Zone.

During the last fiscal 2017-18, 71 route kms of track length has been undertaken for maintenance each day on SCR due to which select sections were blocked for train services for a fixed duration of hours intimated to the public well in advance, so as to expeditiously complete the maintenance work. A total of 127 blocks were undertaken each day, cumulatively for 1,23,178 hours during the year, for the purpose of completing these developmental and upgradation works. This led to a slight delay in the punctuality of train services in some sections on account of short duration regulation enroute. Steps were taken to ensure that long distance trains are regulated for the least possible time so that they make up the delay enroute and reach the destination on time. In case of need, short distance services were notified for cancelation in the sections whenever the temporary stoppage is imposed, so as to enable the local rail users to opt for other modes of transport without any inconvenience during the period.

In the larger context, these maintenance, developmental and upgradation works have served the purpose of substantially enhancing safety standards all over SCR’s network to the optimal level of “Zero accident record” last year. The enhanced fitness of the rail routes which underwent maintenance also significantly enabled increase the speed of train services on account of removal of permanent speed restrictions and reduction of temporary speed restrictions, there by ultimately contributing to improved levels of punctuality in train services. To sustain this positive gain, the Operating department of the Zone is continuously undertaking punctuality drives, to identify and clear any visible short coming or bottle neck on this front.

SCR has also adopted various other measures to enhance the punctuality levels of train services during the year. With a view to serve the demands of rail users, 04 pairs of Express and 02 pairs of passenger trains have been extended to various destinations, which also contributed to decongest the existing destination stations, thereby improving punctuality of the train services. Yet another positive gain on account of the priority accorded to completion of track maintenance, is the speeding of 14 trains by more than 30 minutes within the Zone, during 2017-18. Running of Special Trains also reached the peak on SCR during the year, with around 260 Special Trains being run each month on an average, an outcome of the completion of maintenance of tracks which enhanced the scope to plan for these additional train services. In case of short distance services, the technologically efficient Diesel Electrical Multiple Unit (DEMU) rakes were introduced in place of the conventional rakes for 13 passenger trains, thereby signifying more efficient and speedier run of these trains.

The General Manager has set a goal for the Zone to further streamline the developmental and upgradation works by enhancing efficiency and reducing the time taken, so that the punctuality performance of SCR attains the maximum high in the ensuing months of the current fiscal.

Policy on Redevelopment of Railway Stations soon

The directorate of local bodies (DLB) will soon prepare a policy for ‘redevelopment of railway stations’ in the state under which various land use changes and construction approval will be provided.

The decision was taken in the recent land use conversion committee meeting which was chaired by Urban Housing and Development (UDH) Minister Shrichand Kriplani. Once the policy is framed, the state will introduce ‘redevelopment plan for railway stations’.

An official said, senior town planner of DLB has been given responsibility to draft the policy. “The policy would aim at reducing the losses of railway department and provide facilities to the passengers,” said the official.

According to sources, the need of policy was urged, when during the meeting, discussions occurred to change the land-use of 4,000 square metre land of Sawai Madhopur railway station into commercial.

“After the discussions, it was decided to draft a uniform policy to provide approval to all railway stations in the state,” he added.

It was also informed that the Centre has taken up the renovation work of all the major railway stations in the state. For the same, Railway Station Land Development Corporation has been constituted. The corporation will rope in private players to prepare and implement the redevelopment plan.

“The Centre would allow all the activities on stations and its premises that are mentioned in the Railway Act. It is necessary for the state to prepare a policy as per mandatory provisions, the Railways has to seek permission from the local bodies for constructing commercial establishments such as hotels, restaurants etc,” he said.

In the state, the corporation has already prepared a redevelopment plan for Bikaner, Kota, Udaipur, Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. Soon, the plan will be prepared for other railway stations in the state.

The official further said, “The draft of redevelopment plan would comprise details such as type of commercial activities that will be approved. Norms for constructing a building, including height, setbacks, parking space etc at railway station,” he said.

He added, “The plan would also give holistic map, how the area near these railway stations should be developed.”

The UDH will also soon make a plan to increase the width of narrow roads which are connecting to railway stations.

SERWWO felicitates hard working Safety Category Group-D Employees

With a view to encourage the Safety Category Group-D Employees, Smt. Surabhi Agrawal, President, South Eastern Railway Women’s Welfare Organization (SERWWO) felicitated 35 (Thirty Five) Group-D categories of Gangman, Trolleyman, Gateman, OHE Khalasi, Signal Maintenars etc. from four  Divisions i.e. Kharagpur, Adra, Chakradharpur and Ranchi of South Eastern Railway for their sincere, dedicated  & outstanding performances in various spheres of safety activities in train movements during inclement weather and adverse situations at a function held at BNR Officers’ Club, Garden Reach today  (10.05.18).

The President/SERWWO along with other members gave away Cash awards & Merit Certificates to the devoted employees.

South Eastern Railway Women’s Welfare Organization (SERWWO) is a philanthropic and charitable organisation. The main objectives of this organisation are to help the wards of railway employees for their education, treatments and health care. This Organisation also sends relief materials to the affected areas during natural calamities like flood, earthquake etc. It also donates to various welfare organisations in and around Kolkata.

Smt. Surabhi Agrawal, President, SERWWO while welcoming and felicitating the awardees, recognised their perfect role for smooth maintenance of railway tracks, signal maintenance and safe running of trains during their duty assignments.

South Western Railway bags Safety Shield Award for Train Operations in 2017-18

During the year 2017-18, South Western Railway (SWR) has registered best figures and tremendous improvements in key areas of safety pertaining to train operations among all Zonal Railways. Recognizing the efforts of SWR undertaken for improving Safety, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal awarded the Railway Minister’s Safety Shield for 2017-18 to South Western Railway in an annual award event. The number of accidents has come down in SWR from 11 in 2014-15 to 8 in 2015-16, 3 in 2016-17 to 01 in 2017-18.

“Safety is our first and foremost priority and safety performance has improved through the collective will and rigorous and sustained efforts of all train running staff in SWR. Safety action plan with motto of “Zero accidents” was prepared, being strictly implemented and periodically reviewed,” said A K Gupta, General Manager, South Western Railway.

Activities and consistent efforts taken up by SWR in direction of improving safety:

– The budget outlay was increased to nearly Rs 3000 crore from Rs 1000 crore a few years back.

– Gate Mitras round of the clock have been deployed at all unmanned Level crossing gates.

– 27 Unmanned Level Crossing gates eliminated by Construction of ROB/RUB/subway against a target of 25 in 2017-18

– Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) (exclusive Safety Fund) has been set up in 2017-18 Budget by Ministry. SWR could book funds to the tune of Rs 687 crore in 2017-18 under this head. A bulk of the funds in this head are being spent on track renewals for safety and up gradation of vital assets such as track etc.

– Shift towards safer LHB coaches.

– Infrastructure augmentation of maintenance facilities

– SWR completed 202 Track-Km of rail renewal in 2017-18, which is highest ever in the history of SWR about 115 per cent more than that of corresponding figures in 2016-17.

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