Railways plans designer blankets, frequent cleaning cycles.

There have been an increasing number of complaints against dirty blankets being used by the Indian Railways.

The authorities have now chalked up an action plan to make sure that these blankets are washed frequently.

It will also replace them with lightweight designer ones in phases.

Measures will be taken to make sure that used blankets are sanitized properly too, before reuse.

Here’s more.

What’s the issue?

A recent CAG report has pointed out that these IR blankets are extremely unhygienic and go unwashed for as many as six months. The directive was to wash them in every one or two months. It is now being remedied.

As for the new blankets, it has asked Institute of Fashion Design (NIFT) to come up with a lightweight alternative with less wool content.

What is it doing about it?

Railways authorities are presently conducting a test run of ‘thin, cold washable blankets’ in the Central Railway zone.

A senior Railway official privy to it said, the aim of Railways is to provide washed blankets that have fresh linen for each train journey, in near future.

Considering that 3.90 lakh sets of linen are provided every day in AC coaches, it’ll require significant effort.


Things will fall into place
IR has already initiated the process of changing the cover of blankets in some of its sections.

The frequency of washing has also been brought down to fortnightly and weekly instead of the monthly cycle.

Railways also held a linen management meeting to address the issue.

Currently, Railways has 50 mechanized operational laundries and it will open ten more to expedite the cleaning cycle.

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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Uncategorized


Good news for Railways passengers, carrier makeover plan for stations well on way.

In what comes as good news for those who have bemoaned the condition of railway stations in India, a recent review meeting on infrastructure projects saw the Prime Minister’s Office directing the Indian Railways to expedite the targets for the station redevelopment programme for fiscal 2017-18. Being one of the flagship programmes of the National Democratic Alliance, the Narendra Modi government is keen to present a sprucer face on this front when it goes to the polls in 2019.

The 23 railway stations for which expressions of interest (EoIs) have been sought so far have evoked interest from Blackstone, the Canadian Pension Fund, a Malaysian consortium and Chinese funds, among others. Reputed builders such as Tata Realty and Infrastructure, Essel Infra, IL&FS, GMR, Raheja, Prestige and Brigade are already working to submit bids for the purpose.

Progress in the scheme has been slower than was envisaged at the beginning though. When the Centre decided to redevelop 400 stations in three years at the start of the last financial year, the Niti Aayog had pushed for 100 stations being put on the block in the first year. However, the process got underway for only 40 stations, with the list being subsequently trimmed to 23 names due to fears of a tepid response post-demonetisation, among other factors. Work on two stations — Habibganj and Gandhinagar — has already started while the Jammu Tawi and Kozhikkode railway stations are close to being awarded. It is expected that the remaining stations would be ready for bidding by September.

The programme received a boost recently when a Malaysian delegation evinced interest in redeveloping seven railway stations —Udaipur City, Indore, Howrah, Faridabad, Secunderabad, Bandra and Pune — of the 23 on offer. The presence of Dato Sri Zohari Haji Akob, secretary general-works, government of Malaysia, added heft to the delegation. The consortium of Malaysian developers is keen on redeveloping a basket of around 20 stations beyond the 23 on offer at present. The railways has asked it to submit bids for 4-6 of the stations on offer in the current round before this request could be looked into though norms forbid contracts being awarded without a tender process.

On the prospects for station developers, Rajiv Chaudhary, adviser-station development, Railway Board, says, “station redevelopment is a long-term bet wherein viability will fluctuate and developers will have to innovate to adjust to the changing scenarios.” The process of awarding station redevelopment contracts is a lengthy one stretching over at least eight months. Once a station is put up for bidding, developers need to submit a concept along with the cost and premium to be paid to the railways.

Two railway committees and an independent committee then evaluates the bids and makes its recommendations. It is then up to the general manager of the concerned zone to select one bid which, in consultation with the railways, is developed into a detailed project report (DPR). This DPR is put up for Swiss Challenge, leading to the contract being awarded. The railways is hopeful that as more funds and developers start participating, interest in the programme will grow. While it expects contracts for 18 of the 23 stations to be awarded this year, the process is expected to gather steam next year.

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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Uncategorized


Mumbai-Pune commuters’ favourite Deccan Queen just got more regal. Take a look.

The only dining car in the entire fleet of Indian Railways recently got a facelift, and is back for service. The modified car in the Deccan Queen, which operates daily between Mumbai and Pune, have got new sitting arrangements and improved interiors.

Pictures of the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus building adorn the interiors, and boards explaining history of the train have been put up at various places. The express train is popular on the Mumbai-Pune route, and after constant demands from the commuters, the Central Railway finally revamped the dining car.

Changes have also been undertaken in the kitchen area to ensure its smooth functioning.

The express train is popular on the Mumbai-Pune route, and after constant demands from the commuters, the Central Railway finally revamped the dining car. (HT)
The water pipeline near the storage space has been modified to so that it does not obstruct the sliding doors. PVC flooring has also been installed on the entire dining area of the train. The revamp work was undertaken at the Railway’s Matunga workshop.

The Central Railways’ divisional railway manager, Ravinder Goyal, had inspected the dining car of the Deccan Queen before the maintenance work was planned. A periodic haul of the train was done, and the modified dining car was inducted in the service on Sunday evening.

A periodic haul of the train was done, and the modified dining car was inducted in the service on Sunday evening. (HT)
Sunil Udasi, chief public relation officer, Central Railway, said, “The modification was done in the dining car during the periodic haul. The demand for the changes and modification had come from the commuters who travel by the train daily.”

Steffy Thevar, a regular commuter of the Deccan Queen, said, “I work in Mumbai and my home is in Pune. I always travel by Deccan Queen during weekends. The dining car is the best thing about the train, and it feels great to have a delicious meal while passing through the ghats. A modified dining car will be an added facility in the train, and will improve the travel experience.”

The Deccan Queen express completed 87 years of operation on the Mumbai – Pune route this May. The express train was introduced on June 1, 1930 with only seven coaches.

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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Uncategorized


WR to set up waste disposal plant at Mumbai Central.

Western Railway will soon set up a waste disposal plant at Mumbai Central railway station, which will process around 500 kg waste generated at the station every day.

According to Western Railway officials, the proposal has been approved by the general manager. The plant will be set up near the divisional railway manager’s (DRM) office at Mumbai Central by November-end.

Waste generated by the Mumbai Central station, Mumbai Central base kitchen, and coach care centre will be treated at the plant. On an average, of the approximately 1,200 kg waste generated at these places, 500 kg is organic waste. At present, the garbage is dumped near the DRM’s office, and the area has become a site for waste-pickers.

The plant will process 500 kg waste per day. It will be a self-sufficient plant, powered by solar panels.

It will convert the waste to methane — which will be used in place of LPG in the staff canteen at the DRM office — and manure, which will be used for the upkeep of WR’s gardens and nursery. Non-convertible waste will be sent for recycling.

The plant is estimated to cost Rs. 44 lakh, including one year’s operation cost.

The Railways have proposed a pilot project for disposal of municipal solid waste generated at major railway terminals across the country in an environment-friendly manner. Jaipur and New Delhi stations have been identified for the pilot waste management plants. Biogas produced by the plants will be used to generate electricity in these pilot projects. The Railways also plan to set up plants at Mumbai, Secunderabad, Chennai, Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna, Sealdah and Howrah railway stations.

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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Uncategorized


WR uses tech to track escalator breakdowns.

Western Railway has decided to make use of smart technology to ensure prompt attention to complaints of dysfunctional escalators that have been installed across its suburban stations.


WR first introduced escalators at Vile Parle station in August 2013 and the move has proved to be major hit among commuters. A total of 32 escalators have since been installed on WR stations and 27 more are to be provided this year.

WR’s chief public relations officer Ravindar Bhakar said, “We have made use of smart technology so that as soon as an escalator comes to a halt, an alert is sent out to those responsible for its maintenance. This will ensure that the maintenance team reaches the spot immediately to attend to the problem.“ Besides technical issues, pressing the emergency button also brings escalators to a halt.

The technology has been installed at four escalators at three stations–Bhayander, Vasai and Nalasopara.

“Escalators are working very well at present but there is a fluctuation in voltage at these stations which sometimes causes them to come to an abrupt halt. They have to be reset whenever they stall,“ he added.

The smart technology will be installed at 10 more escalators in the coming days. A WR official said, “The technology will come in handy during monsoon when escalators may come to a halt due to water coming in contact with the system.“

WR is also considering appointing attendants on contract basis to keep a vigil in case of any miscreant activity on the escalators.

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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in Uncategorized


Rajdhani, Shatabdi Trains To Be Revamped: This is What They Will Have.

After the swanky and high-speed Tejas Express was successfully put on tracks last month, it’s time for Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains to get a major facelift. Enhanced catering, on-board entertainment and improved services are part of the makeover plan for these air-conditioned superfast trains under the Railway Ministry’s “Operation Swarn”.

In its first phase, the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express have been selected for upgradation. Work on the proposed changes for 30 trains – 15 Rajdhani and 15 Shatabdi – at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore starts September 26.

In the last few years, passengers have complained that the service and quality of food have deteriorated while cleanliness leaves a lot to be desired.

The three-month programme will include refurbishing of coach interiors, comfortable seats, improved sanitation infrastructure and maintenance of cleanliness in coaches.

Passengers will be able to watch films, TV shows and enjoy music as part of their entertainment package. Hygienic ways of handling food, special trolleys, clean linen and new uniforms for the staff aboard are part of the plan.

“Steps will also be taken to ensure punctuality by reducing delays in the premier trains,” a railways official said.

A senior Railway Ministry official told news agency IANS, “The plan will be upgraded in future with services like Wi-Fi, infotainment screens (that were first provided in Tejas Express) and coffee vending machines.”

The project aims at strengthening the security system in the trains with adequate deployment of Railway Protection Force personnel.

In May, Tejas Express, India’s newest train, made its first trip from Mumbai to Goa. The luxury train took 400 passengers on the eight-and-a-half-hour journey. The bright yellow superfast train promises a flight-like experience on the track at less than Rs 1,500 a ride.

The Tejas Express has German coaches fitted with LED screens, is loaded with coffee vending machines, automatic doors, fire repression system, bio-vacuum toilets, attendant call buttons, reading LED lights, besides free WiFi connectivity.

The train was designed to travel at 200 kmph but keeping in view the track conditions in the Konkan region, the speed is restricted to 130 kmph.

In the last few months, the Railways has launched a new series of fully air-conditioned express trains like Humsafar and Mahamana Express for overnight travel.

The Humsafar Express is equipped with features like CCTV cameras, coffee vending machines, fire and smoke detection systems, new interiors with comfortable seats.

The Mahamana Express has ergonomically designed ladders for climbing to upper berths, snack tables for side berths, windows with powered venetian blinds and roller blinds, LED lights as berth indicators, LED reading lights, fire extinguishers in all coaches and an electrically operated chimney in the pantry car.

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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in Uncategorized


Railways to float content on demand (CoD) and rail radio (RR) services tenders.

The journey on board premium trains, such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi, will soon be entertaining for passengers. It has been learnt that tenders for content on demand (CoD) and rail radio (RR) services will be floated next week. It is expected to be rolled out in a phased manner by next year.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Railways released the CoD and RR policy.

According to officials, the rationale behind the policy was to augment non-fare revenue, by monetising entertainment-based services on trains and stations. The policy had earmarked a contract period of 10 years. It was proposed to allow contracted parties to provide content like movies and TV shows, with a revenue of more than `6,000 crore expected to be generated by the end of contract period.

The ministry had appointed RailTel, a public sector enterprise owned by Railways, as the nodal agency to carry out the process. Speaking to Express, a RailTel official said the tender documents have been finalised and bids will be opened next week. The applicants can be a consortium, comprising of individual content providers. “It is expected that the tendering process will take around three months. We hope to start work from August,” the official said.

The CoD and RR will be provided through personal devices of passengers. “There will be a library of digital content listing audio and video shows. Users can choose to watch any content, paid or free,” the official explained.

The service will first be made available on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto. Railways has launched a series of initiatives, including advertising and branding, to increase non-fare revenue, to offset the dependence on earnings from the passenger and freight segment. Although total earnings from the passenger segment in 2016-2017 is estimated to be around `47,400 crore, officials say it did not match projections.

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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in Uncategorized