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Enjoy Free Virtual Tours With Indian Railways, Courtesy Google.

Indian Railways has joined hands with Google to consolidate a digital repository of its rich heritage through an elaborate crowd-sourcing exercise in form of a free virtual tour.

Under a pilot project of Google Cultural Institute, six video screens were deployed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Station (CSTM) in Mumbai while showcasing the national transporter’s rich history and heritage.

A senior Railway Ministry official associated with the project said, “A virtual visit will never replace the real thing. But technology can help open up art and culture to everyone and we think that’s powerful thing.”

The virtual tour will showcase railway’s heritage to the commuters through similar screens at stations. Indian Railways have already started collecting unique pictures related to its history through crowd-sourcing effort.

Google Cultural Institute has agreed to contribute to the initiative by digitising and showcasing these important instances of history on digital platforms while creating a digital repository for free and universal online access.

With the project, Railways have also joined the list of various other government ministries and institutes to collaborate with Google Cultural Institute for displaying and preserving their cultural heritage digitally.

Among the number of heritage assets, Indian Railways has 34 museums, heritage parks and heritage galleries across India. “Once these are placed online, it will act as a great tourist attraction,” the official said.

The ministry already spends about Rs. 250 crores to maintain and manage the heritage assets annually. Under Digitial India-Digital Rail campaign, Google will also provide free Wi-Fi service at 100 stations.

The ongoing project might take about 5-7 years to become operational fully starting from Rewari Steam Locomotive Shed and National Rail Museum, followed by Nilgiri Mountain railway. A rail heritage website already disseminates related information.


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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Railway Push To Heritage Conservation: Steam Engines To Return To Mountains.

GIVING A fillip to heritage conservation in railways, the national transporter is going to bring back steam engines of yore to haul trains in its mountain railway sections such as Kalka-Shimla, Darjeeling-Siliguri and Matheran.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani announced Saturday that the mountain lines where trains are currently pulled by diesel engines will instead host steam engines. “We will also try to keep the ticket prices of these special trains economic,” Lohani told the National Congress of Indian Steam Railway Society, an independent body of enthusiasts of steam locomotives and railway heritage patronized by, among others, retired and serving railway officers. Lohani is a founding member of the society.

The 96-km Kalka-Shimla Railway line in Himachal Pradesh line is a UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed in 2008. Built in 1889, it sees steady patronage by tourists during the busy season mostly on its flagship Shivalik Deluxe Express for tourists and a couple of passenger trains for commuters. These trains are currently hauled by diesel locomotives.

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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Railways ropes in IRSDC for speedy redevelopment of 400 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 Mint reported.

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 newspaper.

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 Business Standard reported.

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, as per the Mint article.

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 Mint.

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

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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Indian Railways mountain heritage services to get Narendra Modi government boost, go back to steam engines

Indian Railways is all set to bring back steam engines for its trains plying in routes such as Kalka-Shimla, Darjeeling-Siliguri and Matheran. Indian Railways is taking this decision with an aim to give a fillip to heritage conservation in mountain railways. Currently, trains are run by diesel engines in these routes. Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani took the decision on Saturday. Lohani told the National Congress of Indian Steam Railway Society, an independent body of enthusiasts of steam locomotives and railway heritage patronized by, among others, retired and serving Railways officers.

The 130-year-old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) was closed and is undergoing restoration following the Gorkhaland agitation earlier this year. It is popularly known as ‘Toy Train’. The 88-km journey from Siliguri to the Darjeeling hills passes through forests, tea gardens and numerous bridges and tunnels. The service, which earned UNESCO World Heritage tag in 1999, is a big attraction for tourists who flock to this eastern hill town from all over the world.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site is the 96-km Kalka-Shimla Railways line in Himachal Pradesh. It was built in 1889. This mountain service sees steady patronage by tourists during the busy season mostly on its flagship Shivalik Deluxe Express for tourists and some passenger trains for commuters. These trains are also currently hauled by diesel locomotives.

The 21-km Matheran Hill Railway in Maharashtra was opened in 1907. Like in Darjeeling, this one too is undergoing restoration following two derailments last year. Full service between Matheran and Neral will resume by early 2018. The steam service could be launched then, according to reports.

Earlier, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Railways ministry with Switzerland which would help the two countries in developing tilting trains Tilting trains lean to one side on approaching a bend, just like a motorbike on a winding road. Such trains are operational in 11 countries namely Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, the UK, Switzerland, China, Germany and Romania. The MoUs aim at cooperation in the areas of traction rolling stock, electric multiple units and train sets, traction propulsion equipment, freight and passenger cars, tilting trains, railway electrification equipment, tunnelling technology among other things.

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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Indian Railway Locomotives To Run On Fuel-Cell Battery

The Indian Railway started off with steam engines, went through diesel power, ended up in electric power and finally aims to go hybrid. Locomotives running on Hydrogen fuel-cell battery is what we are talking about.

A fuel-cell hybrid combines the environmental advantage of an electric locomotive, with a diesel locomotive’s low production cost. The main component, Hydrogen, can be sourced from various renewable energies, and need not be imported.

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Indian Railway Locomotives To Run On Fuel-Cell Battery — Hybrid Trains For India?

The plan is to build a 300kW (transient power above 1MW) fuel-cell based broad-gauge locomotive. The locomotive will be heavier and powerful than a conventional diesel/electric example, and will be manufactured by DMW (Diesel Loco Modernisation Works), Patiala.

Indian Railway Locomotives To Run On Fuel-Cell Battery — Hybrid Trains For India?

The hybrid train will employ a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel-cell with three air-cooled stack modules, each rated at a minimum of 100kW. The setup will make use of a dc/dc boost/buck converter with a transformer.

Indian Railway Locomotives To Run On Fuel-Cell Battery — Hybrid Trains For India?

The hydrogen storage system will consist of two modules of Carbon fibre/Aluminium tanks.

Indian Railway Locomotives To Run On Fuel-Cell Battery — Hybrid Trains For India?

The locomotive will have an axle-load of 21-tonne, and a new underframe and superstructure. Components such as bogies, dc traction motors, air brakes, vigilance control device, event recorder, sanders, air dryers and horns, will be borrowed from existing coaches.

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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Indian Railways turning out to be a big opportunity for engineering companies.

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.


Redevelopment of stations

The government is estimated to invest close to Rs 1 lakh crore for the redevelopment of the stations. The Ministry of Railways is aiming to redevelop 10 railway stations on a  pilot basis similar to an airport having amenities for a total cost of Rs 5000 crore. These projects will be self-funded with the monetisation of the land parcel. Companies like L&T and NBCC will be the key beneficiaries.

NBCC will manage these projects and start awarding by end of 2017. Moreover, railways has identified close to 400 such stations which could come up for redevelopment thereafter.

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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized



Bio-vacuum toilets will keep the stench away in trains.

Stinky toilets in trains will soon be flushed away. Starting January 2018, Indian Railways will roll out first 100 coaches with bio-vacuum toilets like the ones in passenger airplanes. The bio-toilets in trains will be odour free, cut down water usage by one-twentieth and will have much lesser chances of getting blocked.

The Railways has been grappling with upkeep of bio-toilets as there were several complaints of them getting blocked due to dumping of waste such as plastic bottles, paper, cardboard boxes in the pot. Trials of bio-vacuum toilets were done in the Railways’ newly-launched premium train Tejas, and it has now been decided to install them out in other trains.

“To start with, Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) will roll out 100 coach sets fitted with bio-vacuum toilets starting January 2018. Initially, these toilets will be fitted in AC-I and AC-II tier coaches of select trains

like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto,” said a senior Railway ministry official. Foul odour and high water consumption were also major reasons that made Railways decide to replace existing bio-toilets with the bio-vacuum ones. Typically, a conventional toilet or bio-toilet uses 10-15 litres of water per flush, whereas the vacuum toilet consumes only approximately 500 ml of water for flushing.

“A bio-vacuum toilet has a suction pump that sucks waste without need for much water to flush it. This will also help in containing the foul smell as bio-digesters will eat up the waste,” the official added.

Initially, the Railways will have to shell out more money to for bio-vacuum toilets as they will have to be imported. A bio-toilet costs Rs 2.5 lakh, while a bio-vacuum one is for Rs 3.25 lakh.

“The cost is likely to come down once we plan to have bio-vaccum toilets in all coaches. The manufacturers have assured us they will set up manufacturing units in India to meet the demand of these units,” the official added.

Over 79,500 bio-toilets have been fitted in more than 22,400 coaches till June this year. In the budget, Indian Railways was allocated Rs 1,155 crore for bio-toilets in passenger trains as part of the Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Mission.

A bio-toilet uses 10-15 litres of water per flush while a bio-vacuum toilet consumes only around 500 ml
A bio-toilet costs Rs 2.5 lakh, a bio-vacuum one is for Rs 3.25 lakh.
Railways was given Rs 1,155 crore for bio-toilets in trains.


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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized