Indian Railways Covers New Grounds

Indian Railways Logo

Indian Railways Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By H.C. Kunwar
The author is Deputy Director (Media & Communication), Ministry of Railways, Govt. of India

New Delhi, Jan 22, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) The total approximate earnings of Indian Railways on originating basis during 1st April to 31st December 2012 were Rs. 89906.46 crore compared to Rs. 75009.17 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 19.86 per cent. The total goods earnings have gone up from Rs. 49868.95 crore during 1st April – 31st December 2011 to Rs. 62413.41 crore during 1st April – 31st December 2012, registering an increase of 25.15 per cent. The total passenger revenue earnings during 1st April – 31st December 2012 were Rs. 23025.34 crore compared to Rs. 20999.01 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 9.65 per cent. In the calendar year 2012, Indian Railways has achieved scrap sale of Rs. 3903.84 crore till Nov. 2012. For the corresponding period in 2011 sale achieved by Railway was 3748.68 crore.

The total approximate numbers of passengers booked during 1st April – 31st December 2012 were 6422.29 million compared to 6210.12 million during the same period last year, showing an increase of 3.42 per cent. Indian Railways have carried 735.10 million tonnes of revenue earning freight traffic during April-December 2012. The freight carried shows an increase of 31.33 million tonnes over the freight traffic of 703.77 million tonnes actually carried during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 4.45 per cent.

In a path breaking initiative taken by the Ministry of Railways, a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in February 2012 for setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) namely “Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited” (IRSDL) to take up work of redevelopment of railway stations along with station maintenance across India in a dedicated manner. Under new SPV, it is proposed to provide the identified stations with well designed concourses, high quality waiting spaces, easy access to the platforms, congestion free platforms, modern ‘State of the art’ Catering facilities, Hotels and other facilities. After conducting preliminary studies & holding consultations with zonal railways, five stations, Bijwasan (Delhi) Habibganj (Bhopal), Anand Vihar (Delhi), Chandigarh, Shivaji Nagar (Pune), have been identified for implementation through IRSDC in the first phase.

As a major initiative to further facilitate the travel of bona fide and legitimate passengers and to reduce the scope for misuse of reserved ticketing system by unscrupulous elements/middlemen, the Ministry of Railways has now made it compulsory to carry prescribed original proof of identity cards during train travel on all reserved classes of tickets.  Those traveling without an original identify proof shall be treated as without ticket and charged accordingly. This new change of policy is aimed at facilitating the travel of bona fide and genuine passengers and simultaneously checking the scope for travel on transferred tickets.  It is also considered that this policy provision shall also be useful from the security point of view.

The year 2012 saw a big push for the key infrastructure projects of Railways.  After a review meeting on infrastructure held by the Prime Minister in the last week of November 2012, deadline has been set for such important infrastructure projects like the elevated rail corridor in Mumbai, setting up of locomotive factories on public private partnership, rail tariff authority and Dedicated Freight Corridors. A time bound action plan has since been initiated by the Railway Ministry on these issues.

Mumbai has one of the most crowded and overloaded suburban systems in the world. Concerned about the capacity constraint on the Corridor, Ministry of Railways has decided to augment the system capacity and has accordingly envisioned a two track elevated corridor along Churchgate-Virra section.  This new Elevated Rail Corridor (ERC) will be between Oval Maidan and Virar of Western Railway in Mumbai area.  The indicative cost of 63.27 km-long ERC project is approximately Rs. 21,000 crore. Under this corridor, 26 stations are proposed, out of which 5 stations would be underground, 19 elevated and 2 at grade.

The Indian Railway has achieved one more milestone in transportation sector with the completion of Banihal-Qazigund section of ambitious and challenging Udhampur-Baramullah-Srinagar Rail link Project. Trials by running trains have started in the section by Railways with the arrival of first Track Tamping machine at Banihal on 24th December 2012 from Qazigund. All the major works have been completed and finishing touch is being given. This section will be ready for opening shortly the 17.729 km long section consists of only one tunnel of 11.215 km length known as Pir Panjal Tunnel, which is  the longest transportation tunnel in India and second longest in Asia. Opening of Banihal-Qazigund railway section will be a turning point not only in the history of Jammu & Kashmir State only, but for the Indian history.

Indian Railways’ ambitious project of ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor’ (DFC) continued its implementation momentum during this year.  There has been progress on both the corridors namely 1499 km long Western DFC from Jawahar Lal Nehru Port (JNPT) in Mumbai to Dadri/Tughlakabad (Near Delhi) and 1839 km long Eastern DFC from Ludhiana (Punjab) to Dankuni (Near Kolkata).  Land acquisition is progressing well and as on November 2012, out of total land of 10703 hectares to be acquired for both corridors, 7768 hectares i.e. 73% has been acquired.   Initial funding agreements for Western DFC through JICA and part of Eastern DFC (Ludhiana-Khurja-Kanpur-Mughalsarai) through World Bank have already been formalized while remaining Dankuni-Sonnagar section of Eastern DFC is proposed to be implemented through PPP and Mughalsarai-Sonnagar section of Eastern DFC is being implemented through the resources of the Ministry of Railways.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on ‘Campaign Clean India’ was signed between the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Railways. Under the MOU, the two Ministries will work together towards a sustained sensitization campaign to train travelers and service providers under the Capacity Building for Service Providers scheme of Ministry of Tourism and for consultations and discussions with the stake holders including the travel trade to evolve strategies for the up-keep and cleanliness of the stations and coaches.  Meanwhile, the Ministry of Railways has issued a notification containing rules on prohibition of activities affecting cleanliness and hygiene in the Railway premises along with penalties for contravention of these rules. Whosoever contravenes any of the provisions of these rules or fails to comply with such provisions shall be punished with a fine which shall not exceed five hundred rupees.

Indigenously designed, developed and manufactured Air conditioned double decker train was introduced for the first time between Howrah and Dhanbad. This year, an improved design of the train has been developed and its services between Jaipur and Delhi and Ahemdabad and Mumbai have been introduced. Such services are also planned between Habibganj-Indore and Chennai-Bangalore in near future. AC double -decker train with improved passenger friendly design is having capacity of 120 passengers per coach and are becoming popular among passengers.

Continued efforts and constant persuasion by Railway Board and energy conservation initiatives by Zonal Railways have resulted into bagging highest ever 11 National Energy Conservation Awards by the Indian Railways out of total awards of 87 from 773 applications during 2012, which were awarded by the President of India during National Energy Conservation Day on 14th December 2012.

Indian Railways continued its thrust on enhancing safety.  Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS) was extended on pilot basis on main line operations on Hazrat Nizamuddin – Agra Section of Northern/North Central Railway (200 Route Kilometres) where work is under progress.  Based upon experience gained from ACD & TPWS systems, Indian Railways has now taken up development of Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). TCAS shall be a fusion of functionality of TPWS & ACD and shall prevent Signal Passing at Danger as well as Collisions. After invitation of Expression of Interest, six Indian firms have been shortlisted. One of the firm has developed the Prototype which underwent field trials in Oct’2012 over South Central Railway.

To bring further convenience to the rail users, Indian Railways through Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a Public Sector Undertaking under the Ministry of Railway, is offering the service of booking e-ticket over the mobile phone. After initial registration and downloading of suitable software on the mobile handset with internet facility, it is quite easy for the mobile users to book a reserve ticket through their own mobile. After booking, the passenger l receives a reservation message with full details of the ticket including PNR, Train No, date of journey, class etc. This virtual message is treated at par with the print-out of the e-ticket.

With a commitment to provide hygienic environment to its passengers and staff, Indian Railways, along with Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) have developed Environment Friendly Bio-toilets for its passenger coaches. In these bio-toilets, the human waste is treated by bacteria, which is benign to the humans.  This bacteria converts human waste into water and gases (methane and CO2). The gases escape to atmosphere and treated waste water is discharged after chlorination. Human waste thus does not fall on the tracks. Eight trains are running with 436 bio-toilets and in the year 2012-13, 2500 more bio-toilets are planned to be introduced. A complete switch-over to bio-toilets in new coaches has been planned by 2016-17 and the Indian Railway has targeted elimination of direct discharge passenger coach toilet systems by the end of the Thirteenth Five Year Plan i.e., 2021-22.

The travel distance from l00 kilometers has been extended to 150 kilometers under IZZAT scheme. There is no change in other terms and conditions. This extension of travel distance from 100 kms to 150 kms is admissible on IZZAT Monthly Season Tickets (MST) purchased on and after June 1, 2012.   IZZAT is a scheme of uniformly priced MST of Rs. 25/- inclusive of all surcharges issued up to distance of 100 Kms to persons working in unorganized sector with monthly income not exceeding Rs. 1500/-.  This distance has now been increased from 100 km to 150 km.

Supervision and monitoring of catering services both in trains and at stations has been strengthened, as a result of this the number of complaint cases has reduced by 4.82 % (approx.) during the calendar year (up to October, 2012) as compared to the corresponding period of last year. About 26860 inspections have been carried out during January, 2012 to October, 20 12 by Zonal Railways for ensuring quality in catering. In order to make catering services effective, a Standard Bid Documents (SBDs) have been prepared for award of tenders for various catering services over Indian Railways.

To provide accurate train running information to the public, the Indian Railways has expanded the train running information facility. Now the information on the running of all trains is available at www.trainenquiry.com.  Similarly this facility is available through SMS on 139. Earlier, train running information of only selected 36 important trains (Shatabdi, Rajdhani & Duronto) were available at website www.simran.in and through SMS on 9415139139.

Indian Railways is adopting a multi pronged strategy to provide a safer, faster, cleaner, and comfortable passenger trains.   Firstly, seven corridors have been identified for conducting pre-feasibility studies for running high speed trains (popularly referred as) at speeds above 350 kmph. These corridors will be set up through PPP route. Initially, Mumbai- Ahemdabad corridor has been taken up for which pre-feasibility has been completed. Secondly, a study is also being done on Delhi-Mumbai route with Japanese help to raise the speed of passenger trains from 160 kmph to 200 kmph being referred to as Semi-High Speed. Thirdly, Indian Railways is working on the concept of acquiring Electrical Multiple Units (EMU) Train sets for intercity journeys for operating speed ranging from 130-160 km/hour.  With high pick-up and increased acceleration & deceleration characteristic, these proposed modern distributed powered EMU train sets will provide faster and safer movement and will substantially reduce run time.

Continuing with the Indian Railways and State Government partnership model, a MOU for the development of rail corridors in Chhatisgarh state was signed.  The three rail corridors meant for both passengers and freight would be developed in northern region of Chhatisgarh state, approximately 452 kilometres in total length.. These are:- 1) East Corridor: Bhupdevpur-Gharghoda-Dharamjaygarh up to Korba with spur from Gharghoda to Donga Mauha to connect mines of Gare-Pelma block, approximately 180 kilometres in length, 2) North Corridor: Surajpur-Parsa-Katghora-Korba, approximately 150 kilometres in length and 3) East-West Corridor: Gevra Raod to Pendra Road via Dipka, Katghora, Sindurgarh, approximately 122 kilometres in length. These corridors will be implemented through specific Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs).

Filling up of vacancies is a matter of priority and is being actively pursued by Railways Recruitment Boards. In 2012, fourteen written examinations have been held for 271 categories,  covering 50515 vacancies. Panels of about 15,838 candidates mainly for safety category posts have been supplied to Zonal Railways/Production Units during the last 11 months period i.e. 1st January 2012 to 30th November 2012.  Five centralized notifications have been issued in 2012 covering 27,038 vacancies in 138 categories.  Examinations against 4 notifications, out of five issued in 2012, have already been held in this year itself for 26,213 vacancies.

Railway sports persons were felicitated by the Railway Ministry for their remarkable performance in the London Olympics – 2012.  They were presented with a shawl, a memento and the cheque of the award amount.  Sushil Kumar, who won silver medal in wrestling (66 kg. Free Style) event in London Olympics was given a cash award of Rs. 75 lakh.  Joydeep Karmakar who got 4th position in the final in Shooting (50m Prone) and Ms. Krishna Punia who got 7th position in the final in Discuss Throw were given Rs. 25 lakh cash award each. In a momentous recognition of the role and contribution of the Indian Railways in promoting sports in the country, Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) of Ministry of Railways has bagged “Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar”, for the year 2012 which is a part of National Sports Awards, announced by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Bilateral cooperation in Railway sector with foreign countries is an ongoing process. India and China, among others, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Technical Cooperation in Railway Sector.  Under this MoU, both the countries will enhance mutual cooperation across various areas of rail technology including High Speed Rail, Heavy Haulage and Station Development. A MoU was also signed between Indian Railways and Belgium on bilateral co-operation for the effective development and modernization of railway sector of both the countries.  Another Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government of India and Government of Spain on technical cooperation in the field of Railway sector.  Delegation level talks were held separately with Switzerland and Germany on bilateral cooperation in the railway sector.

(PIB Feature).