Indian Railways News

Indian Railways’ Agency Lists Bond on London Stock Exchange

The Indian Railways’ financing arm on Wednesday listed its first green bond on the London Stock Exchange with an aim to finance infrastructure for dedicated freight corridors and passenger transport in India.

Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) was set up in 1986 as the dedicated financing arm of the Indian Railways for mobilising funds from domestic and overseas Capital Markets.

The 10-year dated green bond raised USD 500 million with an annual yield of 3.835 percent as it listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE)’s new International Securities Market (ISM).

The bond, the proceeds of which are aimed at financing or refinancing infrastructure for dedicated freight railway lines and public passenger transport in India, was more than three times oversubscribed as it received strong international investor support.

“Our debut green bond is a significant milestone for IRFC, supporting the company’s ambitious infrastructure green projects which includes procurement of rolling stocks for electrifying rail tracks across India,” said SK Pattanayak, the IRFC Managing Director.

Not only was the bond three times oversubscribed but today we have also achieved our aim, through London, to increase our investor base across the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa),” he said.

The IRFC listing marks the sixth green bond transaction on LSE by an Indian issuer and fourth on the new ISM.

The bond is certified by Climate Bonds Initiative, an international, investor-focused not-for-profit, which helps build transparent assurance frameworks around green bond investment.

Sean Kidney, CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative, said: “Indian Railways is the third state-backed entity to seek global exposure by issuing a certified green bond and listing in London

“This IRFC green bond and the previous issuance from the IREDA (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) and the PFC (Power Finance Corporation) are a sign of the enormous market opportunities for international investors in green energy, transport and infrastructure to meet India’s intertwined climate, energy and development goals”.

The LSE said the latest bond listing demonstrates Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2015 commitment to funding India’s infrastructure and growth through the issuance of over 1 billion pound worth of Masala bonds.

“Today’s green bond listing is a significant milestone for India and the IRFC, allowing the country to further tap a dynamic new international channel of finance for Indian infrastructure,” said CEO of the London Stock Exchange plc Nikhil Rathi, who described Indian Railways as the “heartbeat of the Indian economy”.

“It also re-enforces the progress being made in the Energy for Growth partnership established in April between the UK and India, strengthening London’s position as India’s closest and most valued funding partner.

“There is an undeniable shift in momentum in the green and sustainable financing across the globe. The London Stock Exchange Group is at the forefront of this green financing movement, developing innovative products and services in partnership with our customers,” Rathi said.

The London Stock Exchange Group said it has been supporting investors and issuers in the transition to a low- carbon and sustainable economy for over a decade, developing innovative products and services in close collaboration with the market.

To date in 2017, there has been 64 percent growth in the number of green bonds listed on the LSE compared to 2016 and a 65 percent increase in money raised.

In the same period, 23 green bonds have been listed in London, raising USD 9.4 billion, compared to 14 green bonds which raised USD 5.7 billion in 2016.

In total, there are 61 green bonds listed in London that have raised over USD 20 billion in aggregate terms across seven currencies.

Aircraft-type bio-vacuum toilets on Indian Railways from next month

Stinking and non-functioning toilets on Indian Railways — one of the world`s largest rail networks — may soon become a thing of the past. The national transporter is upgrading its bio-toilets to imported bio-vacuum toilets — the kind found in aircraft — an official said. The first 100 coaches with the new toilets will be attached to important trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi and would be rolled out from January 2018.

“These bio-vacuum toilets will be odour-free and cut down water usage by over one-20th,” he said.

The official also said that the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) will roll out the first 100 coaches fitted with bio-vacuum toilets and that these will be attached to premium trains like the Rajdhani and Shatabdi expresses.

Stinking and non-functioning toilets on Indian Railways — one of the world`s largest rail networks — may soon become a thing of the past. The national transporter is upgrading its bio-toilets to imported bio-vacuum toilets — the kind found in aircraft — an official said. The first 100 coaches with the new toilets will be attached to important trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi and would be rolled out from January 2018.

“These bio-vacuum toilets will be odour-free and cut down water usage by over one-20th,” he said.

The official also said that the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) will roll out the first 100 coaches fitted with bio-vacuum toilets and that these will be attached to premium trains like the Rajdhani and Shatabdi expresses.

“The bio-vacuum toilet only requires about half a litre of water and all the waste is cleared through suction,” the official said, adding these had been tried out on a pilot basis in some trains.

The official said that the manufacturers of the bio-vacuum toilets have assured railways that the fabrication units would be set up in India.

Before the introduction of bio-toilets, lack of cleanliness on Indian trains, particularly in the toilets, was always a big issue. Until then, trains had no system to treat human waste, which was emptied on to the rail tracks.

In bio-toilets, human waste wasn`t supposed to be emptied on to the tracks but digested by anaerobic bacteria, which convert it into water and bio-gases that are released after disinfection. However, it was found that this hardly worked in practice.

The bio-toilets have been deployed in Indian trains over four years to 2017, at a cost of Rs 1,305 crore, but these are no better than septic tanks, IndiaSpend reported last week quoting a two-year-long study by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M).

A staggering 93,537 “bio-digesters” — as the toilets are called –have been installed in mainline express and mail trains. However, sanitation experts and various studies — including those commissioned by the railways — have pointed out that most of the bio-toilets are ineffective or ill-maintained and the water discharged is no better than raw sewage.

Over 900 trains currently have bio-toilets either in some or all of their coaches.

Kacheguda Becomes India’s ‘First’ Energy-Efficient Railway Station

Kacheguda has earned the distinction of being the first energy-efficient ‘A1 Category’ railway station in the country, the South Central Railway (SCR) said.

Kacheguda railway station in Hyderabad division of the SCR, has achieved 100 per cent energy efficiency by replacing 1,312 conventional lights with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, 370 ceiling fans with Brushless DC Electrical (BLDC) motors energy-efficient fans and 12 air conditioners with energy efficient inverter type ACs, the SCR statement said. Kacheguda has earned the distinction of being the first energy-efficient ‘A1 Category’ railway station
“With these initiatives, it will save about 1.76 lakh units and Rs. 14.08 lakh per annum with reduction of the connected load by 46.18 kW for Railways,” it said. SCR general manager, Vinod Kumar Yadav, complimented divisional railway manager of Hyderabad division, Arun Kumar Jain, on the achievement.

The statement added that Kacheguda is a “historic and the most beautiful” railway station building on SCR and one of the landmarks of Hyderabad city.

Kacheguda has also been referred to as one of the landmarks of Hyderabad by South Central Railway

From January, Trains To Get Aircraft-Type Bio-Vacuum Toilets

Stinking and non-functioning toilets on Indian Railways — one of the world’s largest rail networks — may soon become a thing of the past. The national transporter is upgrading its bio-toilets to imported bio-vacuum toilets — the kind found in aircraft — an official said. The first 100 coaches with the new toilets will be attached to important trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi and would be rolled out from January 2018.

“These bio-vacuum toilets will be odour-free and cut down water usage by over one-20th,” he said.

The official also said that the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) will roll out the first 100 coaches fitted with bio-vacuum toilets and that these will be attached to premium trains like the Rajdhani and Shatabdi expresses.
He also said there would be lesser chances of such toilets getting blocked.

The railways’ initiative to upgrade the existing bio-toilets came after pesistent complaints from passengers that these were getting blocked due to dumping of waste such as plastic bottles, paper and the like in the toilet pot.

Explaining the need of shifting to bio-vacuum toilets, the official said: “Saving water is a priority for the railways.”

“In bio-toilets, the water requirement per flushing is up to 15 litres. And the water doesn’t generate enough pressure to discharge the waste from the pots, resulting in a foul smell and blockage of the pot.

“The bio-vacuum toilet only requires about half a litre of water and all the waste is cleared through suction,” the official said, adding these had been tried out on a pilot basis in some trains.
The official said that the manufacturers of the bio-vacuum toilets have assured railways that the fabrication units would be set up in India.

Before the introduction of bio-toilets, lack of cleanliness on Indian trains, particularly in the toilets, was always a big issue. Until then, trains had no system to treat human waste, which was emptied on to the rail tracks.

In bio-toilets, human waste wasn’t supposed to be emptied on to the tracks but digested by anaerobic bacteria, which convert it into water and bio-gases that are released after disinfection. However, it was found that this hardly worked in practice.

The bio-toilets have been deployed in Indian trains over four years to 2017, at a cost of Rs. 1,305 crore, but these are no better than septic tanks, IndiaSpend reported last week quoting a two-year-long study by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M).

A staggering 93,537 “bio-digesters” — as the toilets are called –have been installed in mainline express and mail trains. However, sanitation experts and various studies — including those commissioned by the railways — have pointed out that most of the bio-toilets are ineffective or ill-maintained and the water discharged is no better than raw sewage.

Over 900 trains currently have bio-toilets either in some or all of their coaches.

Kacheguda becomes first Energy Efficient Railway Station on Indian Railways

Kacheguda Railway Station has earned the unique distinction of being the First Energy Efficient ‘A1 Category’ Railway Station on Indian Railways. Kacheguda Railway Station on Hyderabad Division of South Central Railway has achieved the 100% Energy Efficiency by replacing 1312 conventional lights with Light-emitting diode (LED) Lighting, 370 ceiling fans with Brushless DC Electrical (BLDC) motors energy efficient fans and 12 no’s of Air Conditioners with energy efficient Inverter type Air Conditioners.

With the provision of these energy efficient LED luminaries, BLDC fans and Inverter type AC units, it will save about 1.76 Lakh units and Rs. 14.08 Lakhs per annum with reduction of the connected load by 46.18 kW for Railways. Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR complimented Shri Arun Kumar Jain, Divisional Railway Manager, Hyderabad Division for the achievement. The initiative was possible on account of the efforts of Shri V. Venkata Ramana, Senior Divisional Electrical Engineer and Shri P. Prem Kumar, Senior Section Electrical Engineer, Kacheguda, Hyderabad Division who put in extensive efforts which made it possible to achieve this distinction.

The Kacheguda Railway station is a historic and the most beautiful Station building on South Central Railway and one of the landmarks of Hyderabad city which has completed 100 years. Situated in the Heart of the city of Hyderabad, this imposing structure was built in the year 1916 by the Nizam’s Guaranteed State Railway during the reign of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam.

Railway introduces various Mobile Apps for the convenience of passengers: Piyush Goyal

With smartphones becoming popular among the masses, Indian Railways has introduced various mobile apps for the convenience of passengers, said Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday.

Goyal on his official page said, “Indian Railways has been closely linked to using IT for delivering services. Computer ticketing facility was introduced in Delhi region way back in 1982-83, long before computers became popular in India. E-ticketing or online booking has grown from strength to strength.”

The new railway apps will reshape service, delivery and complaint redressal mechanism in almost every sphere, he said.

The apps will help in reducing turnaround time, eliminate hassles for users and bring transparency and accountability in the functioning of railways.

The various other functions are –

  • Rail Saarthi has a single window interface that makes it user friendly. Passengers can use this App to book their tickets, enquire about the train status before starting a journey and share feedback after its completion.
  • UTS (Unreserved Ticketing System) App can be used to purchase unreserved train tickets. This also allows one to buy platform or season tickets. There is no need for taking print out of the contents. Passengers can just display it on their mobiles by using show ticket feature.
  • IRCTC Rail Connect is a comprehensive App with facilities of purchasing a train ticket, with links to other apps for purchasing air ticket, booking a meal and plan a trip with IRCTC tourism feature.
  • IRCTC Tourism App helps you to plan your vacation and book tour packages for travelling within India at comparatively affordable prices.
  • IRCTC Catering– Food on Track App allows you to book a meal of your choice anywhere in the country. You can opt from Cash on Delivery or Credit Card options for payment. All you need to do is use your PNR number, view the menu, and order a meal.
  • NTES (National Train Enquiry System) App is highly useful for people who commute daily or take frequent trips. It provides commuters with train schedule and real time-status information, like live stations or cancelled trains.
  • COMS (Complaint Management System) is the App to share any rail related complaints.
  • Coachmitra and Cleanmycoach are pair of useful Apps which help the travellers to get their compartments cleaned immediately. Feedback can be sent on the website CLEANMYCOACH.COM COACHMITRA.
  • Railways Parcel Application App helps users to know the current status of their parcel booked with the Railways and calculate the approximate fare based on weight and scale of the train” the page added.

Railways are in the process of developing more apps and increasing the scope and volume of services being delivered through this user-friendly medium.

Railways to offer incentive for Cashless Booking of Train Tickets

The railways, which already offers a 0.5 per cent discount on the purchase of monthly travel pass if the payment is made through debit and credit cards, is planning to extend the benefit to unreserved categories too, the Economic Times reported.

In a bid to push digital transactions, the railways has already waived service charge on tickets booked through the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation website and also offered a 5 per cent discount on payments made online for services like catering and booking retiring rooms.

Last week, the railways said passengers can now book their tickets on an app called BHIM, buoyed by a 12 per cent increase in the number of reserved tickets being booked digitally.

The BHIM mobile app was launched by the government after demonetisation to facilitate instant fund transfers.

Online purchases of reserved railway tickets have surged to 70 per cent from 58 per cent in November 2016. About 30-50 million passengers in the reserved category are reported to have switched over to digital payments.

Railway revenue from reserved tickets is Rs 120 crore a day, of which Rs 25-30 crore is transacted at ticket counters. Of the 1.25 million passengers a day who buy reserved tickets, around 750,000 now book online.

“Around 3-5 crore people in the reserved (ticket) category have migrated towards digital transactions through e-ticketing. At the counters, around 30 per cent passengers buy reserved tickets. We have installed card swiping machines for debit or credit cards”, said Mohd Jamshed, Member-Traffic Railway Board.

Railways may terminate low occupancy trains to cut revenue losses

Indian Railways is working out a plan to terminate the train services that run much below their passenger capacity. The move is aimed at cutting down on revenue losses due to heavy operational costs of these trains.

The Railway Board is in the process of finalising the criteria to decide on the trains that would either be terminated or merged with other trains on the same route. A decision in this regards is likely by February 2018.

According to Railway sources, if the bar is fixed at passenger occupancy below 50 per cent, then many trains will have to be terminated. However, the Railways will keep in mind that there are other trains on the route. “It has been observed that several trains run below normal passenger capacity on daily basis. This causes huge revenue loss and puts extra pressure on the already choked railway network. Rationalising these trains is also likely to impact the punctuality of other trains on same routes,” said a Railway Ministry official.

The official said if there are more trains on same routes, then either the routes would have to be changed or merging of two trains could be done to cater to passengers.

Punctuality of trains is also a major area of concern for the Railways. Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal has issued directions to improve the punctuality of premium trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto. Railways face revenue loss of over Rs.30,000 crore annually on account of subsidy and concessions. Officials said if the idea is to run the Railways like a commercial organisation, hard decisions were the need of the hour. Several sections such as Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai run below their capacity, and the purpose is to weed out trains that don’t see high passenger occupancy, sources said.

The country’s largest public transporter is also reviewing the status of 171 projects, mostly new lines, worth over Rs.1.5 lakh crore as they have not taken off in over a decade. Majority of these projects were announced by former rail ministers Lalu Prasad and Mamata Banerjee in their rail budgets.

Goyal, during a review of pending projects, directed the Railway Board to decide the fate of these projects for they have become a financial burden on cash strapped railways. In total, 491 projects – new line, gauge conversion and doubling of tracks – worth Rs.4 lakh crore are pending.

Indian Railways to rank Best & Worst performing Trains, Zones

The Indian Railways will soon start making public a list of its best and worst performing trains and zones, with an aim to improve service standards by encouraging competition within the organisation. The zones and trains will be ranked on parameters such as cleanliness and punctuality, which are two longstanding issues for the railways, a top rail ministry official told ET.

This initiative is part of railway minister Piyush Goyal’s efforts to give the national transporter a performance makeover before the 2019 general elections, while also ensuring at least a 50% reduction in derailments and other accidents. The railways would make a list of the bottom and top ten trains of every zonal railways, the official said. The Indian Railways has 17 zones, which are divided further into sub-zones i.e. Divisions.

“The list would be made on the basis of housekeeping and environment, coaching standard and the punctuality of trains,” he said. “The railway minister has already put in place a monitoring team. All information related to trains and zones would be made public.”

The state-run transporter plans also to launch a mobile application for passengers that could list these trains and zones. The list will be updated regularly. The railways’ renewed priority on safety and repair of tracks and trains has hit operations badly with punctuality dropping to around 70% now from the average of 77-80%.

Goyal has told his officials to wrap up the maintenance work at the earliest to ensure at least 95% on-time performance. “There’s a renewed focus in the railway board to push the service standards immediately. We are already providing real-time updates to passengers through SMS if their train is late and are also mentioning the reason why it is late. The minister wants the functioning to be very transparent,” the official added.

The move makes perfect sense. Rail passengers can now grade customer satisfaction online after each journey. And the Railways do need to leverage big data to better track service quality. There should be much scope to explore co-branding opportunities as well. For instance, the hospitality industry would be keen to join hands with Railways for the cleanliness and upkeep of particular trains and routes. There should also be scope for players in the travel and logistics industry to tie-up with the Railways to boost performance standards and punctuality.

Suburban Rail Terminal at Bengaluru Cantonment to link East/West/North/South of Bengaluru

The railways has planned an exclusive terminal for suburban rail service in the Cantonment station premises. “We will be making a proposal to the Railway Board,” said Divisional Railway Manager R.S.Saxena, confirming the development.

If the Board too favours it, the ministry will include the project in its next year’s budget and chalk out plans on its implementation, including the model and funding.

Bengaluru lacks a suburban terminal like the one at Churchgate in Mumbai, which has helped the government address transportation needs of a large number of Mumbaikars. “We have the land near the Bamboo Bazaar area. We only need to build a terminal like Churchgate in Mumbai,” a railway official said. The railways has plans to connect the proposed metro lane with the suburban terminal through a skywalk or subway later.

The railways wants to run suburban trains from here to several places including Nelamangala, Mandya, Marikuppam, Tumakuru, Hosur and Gowribidanur. This will also provide critical connectivity to software suburbs like Sarjapur (Carmelaram station) and Electronic City (Heelalige station) which comes on the Hosur section and to Whitefield which comes on the Malur sector, besides airport as well.

The railway officials have asked for 10 acres of land owned by Binny Mills and have been pursuing it with the Infrastructure Development Department. If this piece of land is acquired and given to them, they would shift maintenance infrastructure such as pit-lines and stabling lines to the new site and expand the city railway station with two dedicated platforms to run suburban train service.

“We cannot currently run a service to or from the city railway station in view of the congestion. We cannot think of running a service from Kengeri to Cantonment and beyond because platforms are not available,” the official said. The railways, he added, is already running 100 suburban services a day and once they create the infrastructure, additional rakes and new services will follow.

The number of suburban services from Bengaluru, however, pales in comparison to the services in Mumbai. In September, the railways added 100 new local trains to the Mumbai suburban network, taking the total suburban services in the coastal city to 3083 services.

The railway officials in Bengaluru, however, maintained that the suburban services fall in the domain of the state government and the railways could do its bit only with the help of the state.

The suburban rail policy requires both the state and the Railway Ministry to form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) with equity participation of 20% each. The SPV is required to arrange the balance cost of the project through debt or other sources while the state government has to provide guarantee for the loans. In a recent letter, Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan (BJP) has offered to provide funds from his local area development (MPLAD) fund to upgrade the infrastructure at the Cantonment railway station to run suburban train services.

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