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.

Leave a comment

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.

To Follow DriveSpark On Facebook, Click The Like Button
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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Forget plastic money and Net payment, you can soon use BHIM to book your train ticket.

Soon, rail passengers will be able to purchase both reserved and unreserved tickets at counters using Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) mobile application based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

Aiming to encourage cashless payments, railways has extended the facility of paying ticket fares through BHIM mobile app, developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), an umbrella organisation for retail payment system. At present, passengers are allowed to pay the ticket fare through credit and debit cards for purchasing reserved and unreserved tickets at counters.

The UPI system will power the multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application and provide several banking features, including money transfer.

On the procedure involved in making payments through BHIM app, railway sources said passengers who have signed up for UPI payments with their banks will get a 20-digit alpha numeric Virtual Payment Address (VPA).

“While purchasing train tickets at counters, you need to provide your VPA address to the ticket clerk. As soon as the clerk keys your VPA in the reservation portal, you will get an alert to your registered mobile phone for approval. After you approve the payment, the money will get deducted from your bank account. The booking clerk also will receive an alert in his system. The entire payment process will be over in seconds,” the official explained. You need not mention the bank account at any point of time, the sources said.

The pilot project will be introduced for three months and passengers who hold accounts in ICICI and SBI bank will be able to use the provision. Later, railways plans to include more private and nationalised banks that support UPI payment method.

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), an IT wing of railways, had already made changes in IRCTC portal, to accept payment through UPI/BHIM application for online tickets. “The zonal railways had been directed to introduce the payment option at reserved and unreserved ticket counters at the earliest,” the sources added.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized



Tourists Throng Indian Railway Station Decorated With Ancient Art Form.

The Madhubani Railway station, one of the oldest train stations in India, has become a tourist hotspot after hundreds of local artists painted frescos in the famous Madhubani style, free of cost in an attempt to promote and preserve the ancient art form.

The railway station in Madhubani in India’s eastern state of Bihar has been converted into an amazing exhibition of artwork with famous Madhubani paintings adorning the walls. The Madhubani style is one of the most intricate art movements of ancient India preserved to date by the world-famous artisans of Madhubani. More than two hundred local artists made these paintings free of cost for Indian Railways.

The Madhubani railway station has become a center of attraction, as many tourists now visit the city just to see the decorated walls.

Indian Railways is now planning to put up similar frescos at other railway stations across the country.

“Our plan to beautify and bring past glory to the historical railway stations has become successful. We will soon decorate the walls of the Darbhanga and Sitamarhi railway stations with Madhubani paintings,” R K Jain, the manager of the Samastipur railway division, told Sputnik.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Uncategorized


Three-tier monitoring for bullet train project.

A three-tier system will monitor the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, the deadline for which has been pushed forward by a year to 2022.

A high-level meeting on Thursday decided that Niti Aayog vice-chairman and a special advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan would together be the overall top authority to take stock of the progress.

The MD of the National High Speed Rail Corporation, Achal Khare, will head a working group that will have representatives of ministries concerned and the two states as well as those from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the funding body.
This apart, a technical expert committee also headed by Khare will work to seamlessly coordinate the various processes and weed out bottlenecks.

Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani will review the overall progress every three months or even earlier, if necessary, it was decided in the meeting, sources said.
At Thursday’s high-level meeting, the Japanese ambassador, Lohani, officials of the NITI Aayog, ministries, National High Speed Rail Corporation, JICA and representatives from Gujarat and Maharashtra were present.

The government decided to advance the deadline of the rollout of the 508-km bullet train corridor to August 2022 to coincide with 75 years of Independence.

“It is my wish that when India celebrates 75 years of Independence in 2022-23, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and I together travel in this train,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced in September while starting off the project in Ahmedabad jointly with Abe.

The Railways estimates a high ridership for the train. It has calculated that 40,000 passengers will shift from other modes of transport like trains, buses, airlines and personal vehicles.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Uncategorized