Indian Railways News

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.

Indian Railways to build 3 strategic lines along China border; here’s the status of the projects

The railways has set a target of completing by 2019 the final location surveys of three strategic lines along the country’s border with China after the projects received the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) nod in December 2015, officials said today. The railways has received Rs 47.18 crore from the Defence Ministry for the final location survey (FLS) of the 378-km Missamari-Tenga-Tawang line, the 227-km Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai line and the 249-km North Lakhimpur-Bame-Silapathar line after the Cabinet Committee on Security decided to take them up for construction on priority.

“We have set a target of December 2018 for the FLS for Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai line and December 2019 as the deadline for the other two. These three are extremely difficult terrains and we have to deal with unstable and high mountains. In places such as the Sela Pass in the Missamari-Tenga-Tawang line, it is 14,000 feet high,” said A K Yadav, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

He added that the field survey for the Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai line in the plains was in advanced stages, but for the other two projects which are on difficult hilly terrain, terms of reference have been finalised after preliminary investigations. The Missasamari-Tenga-Tawang line, which Yadav said was the most treacherous of all, will be the most expensive at an estimated cost of Rs 35,000 crore and will consist of 80 per cent tunnels. The cost of its location survey has been pegged at Rs 100.73 crore. The FLS of the other two collectively is at an estimated Rs 87.5 crore.

“We want the line to be operational through the year, despite the snow,” said Yadav, adding that the three line are of 853 km with 58 km in Assam and 795 km in Arunachal Pradesh.

For the fourth line also approved by the CCS, the 498-km Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line, the final location survey at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir began last year.

At a height of 3,300 metres, the 498-km long stretch is set to become the highest rail track in the world, overtaking China’s Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

The preliminary estimate of Rs 2.1 lakh crore for construction of the four strategic railway lines was provided by the railways, and a Steering Committee under the Secretary (Expenditure) in the Ministry of Finance was formed to look for ways to finance the construction. These four ‘priority’ lines are part of the 14 strategic lines which were identified for development in November 2010, among the 28 railway lines in the China and Pakistan border areas approved ‘in principle’ by the Defence Minister in January 2010.

Soon, Railways to roll out Smart Coaches with Diagnostics and Info System

They are billed as smart coaches, and Indian Railways will soon roll out these modern train compartments equipped with black boxes and coach information and diagnostics systems.

The black boxes, a first for the Railways, will have a powerful multi-dimensional communication interface to provide all kinds of information on coach condition and also passenger-related information on a real -time basis, a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project told IANS.

The first smart coach will be unveiled at the Rae Bareli Coach Factory on May 11, National Technology Day, as a pilot project.

The most effective enabler for the system would be monitoring of critical components that have been identified as major causes for derailments and delays, and for causing deterioration in rail infrastructure.

The official said the Railways “will introduce the long-awaited sensor-based on-board condition monitoring system (OBCMS) for timely detection of defects related to passenger coaches and also tracks on a running train”.

The OBCMS aims to strengthen the security and safety in train operation as it will have integrated CCTV and information system which will constantly update the health of the coach — from oscillatory behavior, coach diagnostics and heating, ventilation and air conditioning and water management, among others.

According to the system, the on-board sensors constantly record vibrations and temperatures. Anomalies in vibration are the earliest indicator that something may be wrong with the bearings in the wheels of a coach. This allows for operators to mark those bearings out for careful observation, thus preventing any further damage.

Detection of bearing fault at this early stage will help prevent incidents and maintenance schedules can be planned accordingly.

To this end, the mainstay of the smart coach would be the wireless sensor modes that, once fitted on every wheel, help monitor the health of the wheel and its bearings.

“Once deployed in volume, these sensors would also be able to monitor track health on a real-time basis, resulting in improved safety, higher utilisation and reduced operation costs by enabling predictive maintenance and reduction in sudden catastrophic failures of the Railway’s assets,” the official told IANS.

The technology has found great acceptance and traction in other parts of the world.

It would cost an additional Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh per coach as most of the systems like the CCTV, passenger information system, fire extinguishers and the like are already a part of the system.

The Railways will replicate the system in many more coaches after the trial run.

Besides condition monitoring, the system will have Internet of Things (IoT) to provide entertainment-related offerings to passengers while train-related information will be constantly announced.

The pilot project is being executed in consultation with the experts to provide next-generation coaches equipped with maximum safety features, the official added.

On March 19, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had pushed the Rae Bareli coach factory to go ahead with the pilot project as a game-changing initiative. The OBCMS was also displayed at Rail Shivir on November 2016 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

US firm ‘Hill International’ wins $4bn Rail Contracts in India

US-based construction consulting firm Hill International has secured two major rail contracts in India with a combined project value of nearly $4bn.

The new contracts are expected to strengthen Hill’s presence in the expanding infrastructure sector in India.

The first contract, awarded by Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL), involves providing project management services for a programme that will double a 120km-long rail line section in Varanasi, located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Under the second contract, Hill International will provide quality and safety auditing consultancy services for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, a project funded by the World Bank.

The company will be working in conjunction with a consortium comprising Italferr and local consultant Vogue Construction and Consultancy Services. The consortium will provide the infrastructure for the 397km-long Sahnewal-Khurja section, as well as the nearly 46km-long double line electrified railway track for the Khurja-Dadri link.

Hill International Middle East regional president Abdo Kardous said: “Doubling the Varanasi Rail Line and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor are ambitious projects that present several technical challenges.

“However, Hill’s expertise and experience will be valuable in helping both undertakings achieve their goals and support the region’s ongoing growth.”

Last month, the company won a contract to provide general consultancy services for the $2.26bn Mumbai Metro Line 4 in India from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

It secured the contract as a part of a consortium also including DB Engineering & Consulting and Louis Berger Consulting