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


Indian Railways set to get modern ‘Make in India’ locomotives; check out images and facts.

Indian Railways set to get modern ‘Make in India’ locomotives; check out images and facts.

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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in Uncategorized


Why a rail development authority?

The decision to set up the Rail Development Authority of India is being seen as the most important action taken so far to bring about institutional change for reforms in the biggest departmental undertaking of the Government.

If the authority does become all that it is being cracked up to be in news reports based on official briefings, then that is all for the good. But the first point to note is that it is being called an ‘authority’ with the word ‘regulatory’ not there in its name, as is the case, for example, with the insurance or telecommunications regulators.

Advisory capacity
To go behind nomenclature into substance, let us take a look at the press release outlining what the authority will do. These can be divided into two categories.

Some of the regulatory functions listed are: pricing of services commensurate with costs, protection of consumer interests (‘rights’ would have been a better word), ensuring competition, creating a positive environment for investment, and providing a framework for non-discriminatory open access to the dedicated freight corridor.

Some of the developmental functions listed are: promote efficiency and economy and absorption of new technology (to deliver on quality of service and cost optimisation), market development, benchmarking of services against international norms, and human resources development. So far so good but there is a total giveaway in the last sentence. Towards these ends the authority “shall make recommendations to the government for appropriate consideration/decision”.

Thus, the Rail Development Authority will do all kinds of sums and lay down all kinds of norms but at the end of the day it will be an advisory body. It will be up to the railway minister of the day to accept the authority’s advice or not. As ministers and governments come and go the threshold of willingness to accept advice will rise and fall. An ‘advisory regulator’ is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, like say, ‘virtual reality’.

The team

The authority will have five members, including a chairman, who will be identified by a search and selection committee headed by the cabinet secretary and three others, all from within the Government. Among them will be the chairman of the railway board who will in a sense find persons from whom he will take orders up to a point.

The chairman and other members of the authority will naturally have special knowledge in fields like infrastructure, railways, law and even consumer affairs. But, it is to be noted, none of the selectors will be an eminent non-government person in the field of consumer affairs.

It is to be hoped that the authority will in good part act as an adjudicatory body which will give an award in, let us say, a dispute between the railways and a concessionaire like a freight train operator or a special purpose vehicle. In the railways concept paper on the basis of which the authority has been approved, the word ‘adjudication’ does not appear but ‘adjudication fees’ as a source of revenue does. We can assume that what emerges from the exercises of the authority and its appellate body will have the necessary finality. But it remains to be seen how much of an adjudicatory, as opposed to a developmental, role the authority finally has.

Time for change

It is important to raise these issues because the railways, particularly well-spoken reform-minded railway ministers, have been long on the need for reform but till now little has changed. In fact, the merging of the railway budget with the Union budget has been a retrogressive move. A clear casualty has been easy accessibility of data.

Till last year’s budget, a lot of data used to be easily available through the explanatory memorandum which this year is difficult to find. It is not that the data cannot be culled from elsewhere in the general budget papers but not as easily as before. Particularly useful was the table on ‘Railway Funds’ with the closing balance telling you if the funds were being drawn down or not. This readily accessible table is no longer there. According to a former financial commissioner, the railways have become much more “opaque”.

Among the power of the authority, the concept paper mentions “dissemination of information”. It will publish reports and investigations and, in particular, convey its decisions through publicly available documents. What is important is a public discussion on an issue before a decision on it is taken. If the authority makes the railways less opaque, then that will be a great plus.

Pressing need

The need for a regulatory authority had become acute over the years with railway ministers refusing to raise passenger fares, thus leading to freight revenue subsidising passenger traffic more and more, and consequently adding to the costs of industry. It was then felt that if an independent regulator handed down a revision of fares and freight rates which the railways had no option but to accept, then that would take the political sting out of the decision.

But today the situation has changed. With the number of passengers using the railways stagnant in recent years and freight carried last year not even reaching the previous year’s level, market conditions are such that raising fares or freight rates at this juncture will drive away business even more.

The need of the hour for the railways is not the ability to raise prices (fare and freight rates) but the ability to cut costs and canvas for fresh business. This will come from the organisation being corporatised and made to function professionally. If you need proper corporate planning and forecasting for that then it can be done in house. There is no need for a separate think-tank in the form or a development authority to deliver that.

The writer is a senior journalist and the author of ‘Made in India: A Study of Emerging Competitiveness.’

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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Uncategorized


Rail regulator to define performance standards.

To provide guidance on quantity and quality of service

India’s first rail regulator, Rail Development Authority (RDA), would not just look at tariff structures for passenger and freight operations but also set standards of performance and efficiency that would be enforceable under the Railways Act.

“RDA can define standards of performance and efficiency; such standards would be notified as rules under the Railway Act to give a binding force upon acceptance,” said a resolution dated May 5 approved by the Railways Board, inching a step closer toward setting up a rail regulator.

The regulator will set “standards for efficiency and performance for consumer satisfaction in both passenger and freight” and will also be “authorised to check for deviations and suggest remedial measures.”

“The regulator will provide guidance on quantity and quality of service provided to passengers. These may include setting standards including hours of service, frequency of trains, capacity per coach, cleanliness level, and quality of water, food, furnishing and linen,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The Union Cabinet had last month approved setting up the rail regulator responsible for recommending passenger fares, setting performance standards for rail operations and creating a level playing policy for private sector participation.

The resolution states that the regulator will be mandated to “suggest measures for absorbing new technologies for achieving desired efficiency and performance standards.”

Regulator’s structure

The Railway Board also defined the structure of the RDA with a Chairman along with three members each for tariff, public private partnership and efficiency, standards and benchmarking.

The regulator will, however, not involve itself in policy making of the Indian Railways, operations and maintenance of the rail system, financial management, setting technical standards and compliance of safety standards, the resolution said.

It clarified that the regulator would only make recommendations on tariff and not impose a tariff on the Indian Railways.

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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Railways to acquire EOTT system to run trains without guards.

The Indian Railways will float global tenders worth over Rs 100 crore for acquiring sophisticated equipment to run 1000 trains without guards. The End of Train Telemetry (EoTT) equipment is used to establish communication between the locomotive driver and the last wagon of the train to ensure that the train is running with all coaches/wagons as a complete unit.

The equipment is designed to do the guard’s job by giving indication to the loco driver in case of parting of coaches or wagons from the rear side of the train.

Each set of EoTT device is estimated to cost approximately Rs 10 lakh. EoTT system comprises two units – one unit called cab display unit (CDU) fitted on the locomotive and the other is sense and brake unit (SBU) fitted on the last coach or wagon of the train.
Both the u nits are fitted with radio transmitter which communicate with each other. In case of a train parting, the system is designed to indicate to the driver the parting of the train and to apply brakes to the rear unit, thus averting collision of the rear portion with the front portion of the train.

Railways will acquire 1000 EoTT equipment to begin with for its container operations and later more such unit will be procured for all trains. All goods trains on the proposed dedicated freight corridors will run with EoTT system.

“We will invite financial bids for acquiring 1000 EoTT equipment in the first phase,” said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project. The official said the EoTT equipment is used to establish communication between locomotive driver and the last vehicle of the train to see that the train is running with all coaches/wagons as a complete train.

There is a transmitter fitted on a locomotive and a receiver that is fitted on the end of the last vehicle. The transmitter and the last vehicle receive exchange signals at regular intervals to ensure that the train is running intact.

If there is a break in the communication between the two units, the driver gets a signal that the train has parted, the official said.

The transmitter unit, fitted at the end of the train’s last wagon is connected to the brakes and it exhausts the brake pipe air and applies brakes to the broken away portion of wagons so that they do not collide. Railways had earlier undertaken the trial run of the EoTT system successfully.
The EoTT system in 1000 trains is expected to be operational in the current fiscal.

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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Uncategorized