Indian Railways News

How To Book Train Tickets Through This New Facility: 10 Things To Know

Indian Railways carries over 2 crore passengers per day. For the convenience of passengers and promoting digital payments,  Railways has introduced a new payment facility while booking tickets at railway counters. Railways has extended the facility to pay for train tickets through UPI/BHIM to railway counters. Customers booking tickets online through IRCTC, the online ticketing arm of Indian Railways, had earlier access to UPI/BHIM facility for paying for e-tickets. Bharat Interface for Money or BHIM app is developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), based on the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). The BHIM app is inter-operable with other Unified Payment Interface (UPI) applications and bank accounts. In less than a year, the number of daily transactions through BHIM app has reached 2.8 lakh.

Train Ticket Booking Through BHIM/UPI At Railway Counters: 10 Things To Know

The facility to book train tickets at railway counters via the BHIM app was implemented from December 1, 2017.

The Railways said this facility will be available for booking of reserved tickets from Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counters and season tickets (monthly/quarterly) from Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) counters.

There would be no transaction charges for a period of three months from passengers for the new train ticket booking facility.

Passengers will be able to receive information on the fare to be paid at the railway counters by sharing their travel details.

If a customer opts to pay through UPI/BHIM, the counter person will select UPI as payment option and request for passenger’s Virtual Payment Address (VPA).

The railway counter person will enter the Virtual Payment Address (VPA) to initiate the transaction in the terminal.

The passenger will receive a payment request on the mobile to confirm payment. The passenger will be required to accept the payment request and the passenger’s linked account will be debited the fare amount.

Once the transaction is successful and verified on the system, the counter person will print the ticket and hand it to the passenger.

Besides promoting the government’s initiative of increasing digital/cashless transaction, the new payment mechanism at railway counters will offer additional payment option to customers availing railway services. There is no need to share bank account or credit/debit card number.

The BHIM app is easy to use and supports payment through multiple banks on a real time basis.

Goods Train Derails In Odisha; No One Injured

Six wagons of a goods train derailed between Dumuriput and Damanjodi railway stations in Odisha’s Koraput district, cancelling and disrupting movement of several trains on the route today, an East Coast Railway official said.

No one was injured in the accident.

The incident happened shortly after midnight last night when the goods train was approaching route number three of Damanjodi yard, the ECoR official said.

The additional divisional railway manager (ADRM) of Waltair railway division of ECoR zone along with safety officers of engineering and mechanical branches rushed to the site, he said.

Restoration work is in progress and normal train services on the line is expected to be restored soon, the official said.

CRB inspects Secunderabad Station and Lallaguda Workshop, addresses Meeting of Officers at Rail Nilayam

Ashwani Lohani, Chairman Railway Board (CRB) visited Secunderabad on 6th December 2017.  During this maiden visit of the CRB to South Central Railway, he undertook an extensive inspection of Secunderabad Railway Station and Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda before addressing a meeting of Officers at Rail Nilayam, the Zone’s Headquarters. He was accompanied by Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, South Central Railway during his day long schedule.

Commencing his visit with the inspection of Secunderabad Railway Station, Ashwani Lohani, Chairman Railway Board was all praise for the excellent standards of upkeep being maintained at the station. He undertook a check of the maintenance of platforms, the waiting rooms, toilets, retiring rooms, catering units, water dispensing facility circulating area etc. He was appreciative of the quality of services at the station. The Chairman Railway Board was shown around the Security surveillance control room at Secunderabad station and was briefed on the Hawks eye being kept on the entire station premises through the CCTV Cameras and Monitors. He was also apprised of some cases, where the CCTVs helped nab culprits.

The Chairman Railway Board, later visited the Carriage Workshop, Lallaguda and inspected all the maintenance and repair shops at the Workshop. The Chief Mechanical Engineer, Arjun Mundiya and Chief Workshop Manager, M. Vijay Kumar briefed him on the modernization plan of the Workshop, which is considered to be one of the premier Coach Maintenance facility on Indian Railways. The CRB was impressed with the quality of work here and also expressed his appreciation for the technology up gradation, ambience and the green initiatives undertaken here. Subsequent to the inspection, the CRB interacted with representatives of unions, associations and individual employees. Addressing them, he shared his nostalgic feelings since he had served here during the initial days, over 3 decades back. He called upon the workforce to dedicate themselves in performing to the highest levels, so as to take Indian Railways forward. Ashwani Lohani, paid floral tributes to Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, on the occasion of Maha Parinirwan Divas at the workshop premises.

Later during the day, Ashwani Lohani, reviewed the performance of the Zone at a meeting held at Rail Nilayam, which was attended by all Senior Officers of the Zone, besides the Divisional Railway Manager’s of all six divisions through video conferencing. Addressing the meeting, the CRB said that SCR integrates the best work practices of the North and the South of India, owing to its own central location on the Indian Railway map. Calling upon the Railway Officials to accord utmost priority to safety, punctuality and mobility, he stated that these three aspects reflect the competence of Railways. There should be no unsafe condition on Railways, he stressed. He also wanted that the work process on Railways be simplified and a HR centric approach be adopted. Sharing his views, the Chairman Railway Board stated that the Women workforce shall be given all facilities at the workplaces. He wanted that the stake holders of Railways should be considered as partners, so as to build up a common positive approach towards taking the organization forward. He assured of all encouragement to the officers in their decision making and wanted them to work without fear. V.K.Yadav, General Manager made a power point presentation on SCR’s performance and achievements. The Divisional Railway Managers also interacted with the Chairman Railway Board.


Indian Railways Finance Corporation lists Bond on London Stock Exchange

The Indian Railways’ financing arm today 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 $500 million with an annual yield of 3.835 per cent 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.

“We are very delighted on the successful launch and completion of this transaction which establishes IRFC’s status as one of the most sought-after Indian state-owned enterprises credit in the international bond markets. This was IRFC’s return to the international bond markets since February 2014, so investors were very keen to gain exposure to a rare high quality credit from India. The issue has been oversubscribed by 3x times and managed to achieve a very strong price compression. The successful completion of the deal underscores investor’s confidence in IRFC,” said S.K.Pattanayak, Managing Director, IRFC.

“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 S K 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 added.

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 per cent growth in the number of green bonds listed on the LSE compared to 2016 and a 65 per cent increase in money raised.

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

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

“The launch of the deal at initial price of UST + 165ps area and a final pricing at UST +145bps reflected the strength of the orderbook and saw investment interest coming from high quality investors in Asia, Europe and Middle East, and offshore US. The successful transaction followed an extensive road show in Singapore, Hong Kong and London. At UST +145bps, this represents the tightest 10-year spread paid by an Indian public sector corporate in the last decade in the USD markets. ”

Barclays, HSBC, MUFG and Standard Chartered Bank acted as joint bookrunners and joint lead managers for the issue.

Setup in 1986, IRFC is wholly owned by the Government of India. It is under the administrative control of Ministry of Railways (MOR) and plays a critical role in the Indian government’s plans and policies given its exclusive role as financier to MOR.

Indian Railways to allow Train Ticket bookings on BHIM App

Buoyed by a 12% surge in the number of reserved tickets being booked digitally, the Railways on Thursday said passengers can now book their tickets on an app called Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM).

Ticket buyers can use the BHIM app from Friday, said Mohd Jamshed, member (traffic) of the railway board. Before demonetisation, around 58% of reserved tickets were booked online. The number has risen to 70% since October 2016, he said.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, handles online ticketing operations of the national carrier.

BHIM or UPI (Unified Payments Interface) promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi post demonetisation facilitates instant fund transfers between two bank accounts on a mobile platform. Details of the beneficiary’s bank account are not needed for this.

Indian Railways has seen a surge in digital payments since October 2016 through e-tickets, but at counters, only 2-3% transactions are cashless. “Around 3-5 crore people in the reserved (ticket) category have migrated towards digital transactions through e-ticketing. At the counters, around 30% passengers buy reserved tickets. We have installed card swiping machines for debit or credit cards,” he said.

But the Railways wanted to find a way to help passengers who did not wish to carry card or cash, but just their phones, he said. “So we are starting UPI from tomorrow. Passenger can go to the counter with their handsets and get their reserved tickets,” he said.

Reserved tickets worth around Rs80 crore are bought through e-ticketing daily while tickets worth Rs30 crore are purchased from counters at railway stations, Jamshed said.

Indian Railways to invest around Rs 8.5 Trillion over the next Five Years: McKinsey

India’s capex cycle may be far from any immediate recovery. Interestingly, selected pockets like power T&D and railways have been keeping India’s engineering companies busy. Railways has started to become far more attractive and a bigger opportunity as projects have started to flow in. In its recent report prepared by the global consultancy firm McKinsey, the firm estimates Indian Railways to invest around Rs 8.5 trillion over the next five years, which is about four times the investment in the last five years.

Safety (Rs 1.27 trillion), station redevelopment (Rs 1 trillion) and high-speed elevated corridor (Rs 0.65 trillion) are other major areas proposed for the investment.

In terms of segment, the global consultancy firm indicated that the largest proportion of the investment will be in network expansion (Rs 1.93 trillion) and network decongestion (Rs 2 trillion) over the next five years.

This is good news for companies in the EPC space as this will be a huge opportunity for companies like KEC International and Kalpataru Power, who are the leading players in this space. KEC International has about 25 percent market share in railway electrification. During the first half of FY18, the company received orders worth Rs 140 crore. However, the company is expecting order flows to improve as it has already submitted bids of close to Rs 7000 crore and expects to get orders of worth Rs 2000 crore in FY18. KEC is one of the early entrants in this space with close to about 5 decades experience. With the traction in ordering improving, it will boost revenue.

Similarly, Kalpataru Power, which is sitting on an order book of close to Rs 9,600 crore or almost 2 times its FY17 sales, it has got a strong pipeline of orders in railways. Considering their capabilities and the expertise Kalpataru Power and KEC will also benefit as a result of electrification of railway lines.

The government intends to initiate electrification of 7000 km of rail lines and tendering is expected to be completed by end of March 2018. The long-term plant is to electrify close to 25000 km of railway lines with the estimated cost of Rs 35000 crore. Currently, of the total rail network of 66000 km only 30000 km of the railway lines are electrified. One other company whose products fits in this category is Siemens, which has already bagged a few projects relating to railway signalling and supply of the other components of the railway network systems.

Moreover, the government is coming out with the larger projects, which will benefit the listed companies as many of them stayed away from bidding given the small size of projects. Companies like L&T is looking at this segment as an opportunity. L&T was recently awarded Rs 1050 crore railway electrification project of 781 km rail tracks.

L&T is looking for the bigger pie of the opportunity considering its capabilities. It is also working for the metro rail, station development and a few other areas in the overall pie.

Dedicated Management Units to revive Brand of Colonial-era Heritage Trains

The whistle of the vintage steam trains will ring even more melodiously across the winding paths amidst the greenery of the Kalka-Shimla and the Nilgiri routes in the months to come.

Addressing a crying need, the Indian Railways have finally decided to place control of the two colonial-era heritage trains—both designated UNESCO properties—under separate and dedicated management units. This is how the new order unpacks: Management and operations of the two toy trains will be yanked out of the administrative control of the divisional headquarters of the Indian Railways and brought under the charge of dedicated and separate administrative units.

“An initiative that will help preserve practices, systems and processes of the rail operations of yore; as it will provide a boost to local economy and tourism. In simple terms, the brand of these two trains will get revived”, rail enthusiast and former financial commissioner Sanjay Mukherjee told.

In a space of 26 years from 1881 to 1907, the erstwhile British rulers built and started operations on five hill routes. Three of these—the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) apart from the Kalka-Shimla and the Nilgiri trains—have been designated “UNESCO properties”. The fourth—the Matheran Light Railways—is on the tentative UNESCO list.

The DHR, in 2007, was the first of the hill railways to have had a dedicated management unit set up to manage its affairs. The UNESCO mandate has been that a similar model be made applicable for the remaining two hill rail properties that the organisation has accredited.

Heritage conservation has not been a high priority area for the Indian Railways. Until the late sixties, the Indian Railways had had approximately 11,000 steam engines in running condition in its inventory. With a vast majority of these having been cut up and sold off as scrap in the following decades, it has no more than 25 steam engines. The hanging clocks visible at railway stations in the first two decades of the country’s Independence; telephone sets, the uniforms or caps that railways employees or officers wore have mostly disappeared. Some of these items sometimes pop up in the flea markets of Delhi or Kolkata.

Compare this with the scenario in the Western world. The United Kingdom has preserved 1,000 steam engines and operates 100 such trains on heritage lines. In recent years, the country has closed electricity-run trains to replace these by steam-run trains. Majority of the steam routes in the country are financially viable. Thailand—which had a maximum of 200 engines at the peak of its steam era—has preserved 10 locomotives. Four of these are operated as “time-tabled” run trains. In as tiny a country as Switzerland, there exist 100 kilometers of steam lines.

The Indian Railways carries 24 million passengers and operates 19,000 trains each day across its network of 65,500 kilometers: The fourth largest in the world. “Given the pressure of its operations, heritage conservation activities have remained a low priority for railway officials. “While the decision to set up dedicated administrative units for Kalka-Shimla and Nilgiri is a step in the right direction, it does not provide for a complete and lasting solution to the challenges facing heritage conservation”, according to JL Singh, secretary of the Delhi-based Rail Enthusiasts Society.

Singh’s contentions, apparently, are based on the international experience in respect of rail heritage conservation. In a majority of the Western world, tasks of heritage preservation are managed by independent entities such as trusts. Europe has the Federation of Museums and Tourist Railways (FEDIC), while the United Kingdom has the Rail Heritage Trust. Such tasks in Australia are managed by an organisation called “Puffing Billy” in Australia: Named after one of the country’s famous steam locomotive.

“By temperament or training, railways officials are least suited for heritage conservation tasks. We have proposed that such tasks be brought under the control of an “independent entity” with representation from a cross section of individuals such as rail enthusiasts, volunteers or government representatives”, Singh said.

Under the current dispensation, the 172-year-old state-owned transporter has its best chance to revive its heritage. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal is apparently sensitive to conservation needs. At his initiative, rail employees have been asked to move out of the iconic Chattrapati Shivaji Terminal (CST) at Mumbai— earlier known as the Victoria Terminus (VT)—to make space for a museum.

Ashwani Lohani, chairman of Railway Board (CRB) has also been keen on heritage conservation: He is credited to have single-handedly set up a steam shed at Rewari, a two-and-a-half hour drive from the capital. Approximately 10 steam engines have been rehabilitated at the Rewari shed over past few years. Last October, the railways also started a steam run on the Delhi-Rewari route, powered by the “Fairy Queen”, the world’s oldest steam engine.

CRB instructs all Zonal Railway GMs to maintain the “Safety Culture” of the Railways

Thirty per cent of corrective actions suggested by officers regarding safety in railways have remained unaddressed in the last eight months, according to official data.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani has now instructed all general managers and divisional railway managers to take immediate measures to stop such “unsafe practises” to achieve the prime objective of safe transportation of passengers and freight.

According to a compliance report on safety related deficiencies during March-October 2017, out of the 5,070 deficiencies reported as on November 27, only 70 per cent were addressed.

The data showed that five per cent of the deficiencies were pending beyond three months which could lead to safety hazards.

Lohani urged officers to maintain the “safety culture” of the railways.

“Safety department monitors implementation of rules/guidelines… Deficiencies pointed out by the safety department during inspections need to be monitored for immediate corrective action to achieve prime objective of safe transportation of passengers and freight,” he said in a letter.

It also highlighted that while Central Railways with headquarters in Mumbai had the highest compliance rate with 93.5 per cent, it was just 50 per cent in North Central Railway headquartered in Allahabad, 54.5 per cent in East Central Railway in Hajipur and around 55 per cent in Eastern Railway in Kolkata.

SCR enters into an MOU with Indian School of Business

South Central Railway and Indian School of Business (ISB) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in Capacity Building and Research. The MoU was exchanged by Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR and Prof. Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, ISB on 6th December, 2017 at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad. Prior to that, the Dean, ISB and N.V.Ramana Reddy, Principal Chief Personnel Officer, SCR jointly signed the MoU.

The MoU broadly envisages co-operation and engagement between the two entities’ towards Research and Knowledge sharing. The forms of co-operation and engagement cover:

  • Hosting of Leadership Lecture Series by faculty from ISB on topics such as Leadership, Strategy Management, Negotiations skills, Change Management etc., which are critical for the Railway Officers.
  • Holding of Capacity Building Workshops to train and update Officers of SCR in areas like Performance Management, Strategy Management, Change Management etc., encompassing various topics as Infrastructure, Project Management, Customer Relationship Management, Operations, Revenue Management, Innovations etc.,
  • Undertaking Collaborative Research involving both the institutions on critical issues like Brand Capitalization, Customer Satisfaction, Operational Efficiency, Business Innovation etc., which impact the efficiency and service delivery of the organization.
  • Vinod Kumar Yadav, General Manager, SCR in his address to all the Principal Heads of Departments, Divisional Railway Manager’s and other Senior Officials stated that this tie up of SCR and ISB is an excellent initiative towards enhancing the Management and Operational Skills of the decision makers, in tune with the present day challenges of the market. Appreciating the positive work culture and team spirit prevalent on SCR, the General Manager said that the track record of the Zone, which has been awarded five performance efficiency shields at All India level last year, speaks of the commitment of the workforce. Vinod Kumar Yadav expressed optimizing that the Lectures, Workshops and Research activities of ISB will infuse a fresh dynamism on SCR and inculcate new perspectives of Management towards success. He thanked the Dean, ISB for formalizing the MoU in a short time, after it was discussed by the two.

    Delivering the first lecture of the series, Prof. Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, ISB espoused the learning philosophy of the Business School, Leadership lessons and value creation. He stressed on Research, Inquiry and Managerial Action as the key elements that enable multi disciplinary thinking, to build up an Organization. Drawing upon history and comparing its similarity with the new world, the Professor spoke of Leaders as Mahatma Gandhi and Abdul Kalam in the same vein as Satya Nadella and Bill Gates who all had a vision and the capability for problem solving.

    Inspiring others is what is needed for a Leader, he opined. He also added that risk taking is essential to challenge status quo and overcome limitations. Speaking on value creation, Prof. Rajendra Srivastava, spoke on Customer Value and Innovation which leads to doing things better. Citing several successful Business Models, the Professor wanted that there shall be competition for a Customer’s Business and it should be won by Operational efficiency. Evolution of a brand is important, he stressed on the Railways to take on competition by means of coming up with plans that match Customer needs. The Professor expressed confidence that Integration of Research and Training will give a new thrust to the Railways. The Lecture was followed by a Question and Guidance session, during which Prof. Rajendra Srivastava interacted with the Railway Officers and shared his thoughts on their questions.

    Amongst the Railway Officials present was, John Thomas, Additional General Manager, SCR. From the ISB, Kumara Guru, Director, External Relations, ISB; Ms. Mamata Reddy, Senior Associate Director, Centre for Executive Education, ISB and Sandeep, Senior Manager, External Relations, ISB graced the program.

    Umashankar Kumar, Chief Public Relations Officer, SCR presented the welcome address and conducted the program.

Railways ropes in IRSDC for speedy redevelopment of 400 Railway Stations

Indian Railways has decided to expedite redevelopment of 400 A1 and A category railway stations across the country. It will now appoint its joint venture company Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) as the nodal agency to speed up the process.

The high-value project to revamp these stations through public private partnership (PPP) will require investments of around Rs 1 lakh crore. The Railways will also monetise 2,700 acres of spare railway land as part of it.

The first phase of the redevelopment was launched in February this year with 23 stations under previous railways minister Suresh Prabhu.

The appointment of IRSDC, a joint-venture between Ircon International Ltd and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), took place following recommendations from a three-member committee of experts, which had submitted its report in November, railway ministry sources told.

The report recommended IRSDC’s appointment as a nodal agency to ensure a speedy redevelopment process because the firm has shown notable performance in handling its model projects in places such as Gandhinagar and Surat.

The redeveloped stations will be designed to provide services such as digital signage, Wi-Fi, escalators, automatic ticket-vending systems for self-service, executive lounges, restaurants, and malls.

The committee suggested IRSDC be the monitoring body for future and existing railway station projects deciding the mode of implementation for such projects.

The committee’s report underlined the firm’s extensive experience in planning station redevelopment, executing and monitoring the projects; other railways departments and ministry officers are lacking in such experience.

Previously, the ministry used overlapping models for its redevelopment programmes carried out by IRSDC by general managers of zonal railways in PPP mode, in collaboration with Ministry of Urban Development, National Building Construction Corporation, or through RLDA and public sector undertakings of the ministry of railways, and so on.

The varied modes of operation led to confusion regarding decisions and overlapping of work. With a singular nodal agency things are expected to become more streamlined, a railway official told.

The IRSDC, on the other hand, said it has not received any communication regarding the appointment yet.