In a first, railways set to adopt reverse bidding method for high-value orders.

Under pressure to reduce expenditure, Indian Railways has decided to adopt a reverse bidding process for high-value purchases, a first-of-its kind initiative by the national transporter.

The move is aimed at increasing competition for supplying goods and services to Indian Railways and cutting spending substantially. In reverse auctions, suppliers offering goods and services at the lowest price win the bid.

“The Indian Railways is currently in process of developing a software that would hold a platform for reverse auctioning,” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity. “First we would hold it on a pilot basis and then on a large scale.”

The reverse auction method would initially be used for high-value products include high-end equipment and parts for locomotives, coaches, electrification of railways and so on. The national carrier procures material worth Rs50,000 crore every year.

The move comes at a time when Indian Railways is increasing its capital expenditure (capex). According to a recent Citibank report on the performance of Indian Railways, railway capex increased 60% year-on-year in FY16 and 18% y-o-y in FY17. Physical commissioning of projects has improved sharply. Average commissioning of broad-gauge lines increased 86% in FY16-17 over average commissioning in 2009-14. Electrification of rail lines increased 58% in FY16-17 from the average in 2009-14.

The report also said that Indian Railways has reduced the average project approval duration to six months from an average of 24 months. It has also achieved 100% e-procurement.

“Introduction of e-procurement has helped to bring down corruption, but the ministry feels that still procurement rates are high,” a senior railway ministry official said on condition of anonymity. “So once we switch to reverse auction the competition will increase further and prices would fall leading to decline in our expenditure.”

At present several ministries including the power ministry and public sector undertakings are using the reverse auction to procure supplies at competitive prices, he added.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Uncategorized



The Window Seat Project, a crowd sourced photography series on Instagram, is an ode to train journeys.

A family of eight hold on to newspaper sheets loaded with puris, rice and vegetable curry inside a railway compartment, making one ponder over how much time the women might have spent in the kitchen to prepare the meals for their long journey. In another photograph, a pet dog sitting on the lower berth of a first-class AC coach and covered in white bedsheet, is seen looking into oblivion through the window. A frail old man revels in the company of a book of bedroom jokes, bringing back memories of seeking solace in the company of comics such as Chacha Choudhary, Amar Chitra Katha, Champak and Tinkle, while travelling on the train as children. The Window Seat Project by Shanu Babar is an attempt to recollect all such myriad memories of train journeys, while also serving as a travelogue to capture the essence of India, as seen through the window seat.

What started as a college dissertation project has now turned into a crowdsourced photography series on Instagram and Facebook, where photographs can be submitted under the hashtag of the Window Seat Project (#windowseatproject) and Indian Railways. So far, the project has received over 26,000 entries and garnered more than 23,000 followers. Babar — a cinematographer by profession — says, “While studying at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication in Pune in 2015, I wanted my dissertation project to be a travel documentary. So I, along with a few friends, undertook a 10-day train journey from Pune to Kanyakumari, and chronicled the kind of India people saw when they looked out of the window. Most of them discussed issues like education, women empowerment, pollution and the population.”
Among the 926 pictures going viral online, is an image by Manpreet Singh of a line of milk cans hanging from the windows of a train; two coolies laugh and race on the platform against an approaching train in Trivandrum; while in another frame, a cycle is seen tightly roped to the window.

After graduation, as he moved to Mumbai, Babar decided to take the project a notch higher. “I took up a job doing post-production work for films and was expected to mostly sit in a room. Since I couldn’t travel much, I started putting together footage and pictures from my earlier travels on Instagram. It picked up and people started commenting on how it was so nostalgic and they too had stories to share. What started as a personal project soon turned into a travelogue of train lovers online,” says the 26-year-old, who has shot for several TV shows, including So You Think You Can Dance and MasterChef India.

Part-time journalist Divya Dugar’s photographs of her pets, her companions on most of her train journeys, continue to capture eyeballs. “A lot of people do not know about the paperwork involved in taking along a pet with you. We have decided to collaborate and soon post on how to travel with pets on board,” says Babar. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”appears like an apt caption for a submission by Alex Perret — of a platform overcrowded with monkeys, who are seen gorging on the food left behind by travellers.

This March, Babar once again embarked upon a month-long rail trip, hoping to capture the length and breadth of India, as seen through the windows of multiple trains. A food-borne disease forced him to halt it midway on the 13th day but he hopes to resume his trip, and also undertake train journeys overseas. But Babar says he feels proud of the fact that he has recorded his “Chaiyya chaiyya moment”, sitting atop a train much like Shah Rukh Khan did in Dil Se, when he boarded the Gwalior Light Railways via the Gwalior-Sheopur railway line. His fellow passengers — farmers armed with rifles, vendors selling peanuts who moved swiftly from the engine to the bogie, and singers — are also part of the moment.

The photograph of an old man smiling and peeking into the tinted glass window of a train, perhaps looking out for his family members, is an ode to railway-station goodbyes. “These are pictures anyone who has travelled on a train, can relate to. Someone or the other, be it loved ones, friends or relatives need to see you from the window to bid their final goodbye,” adds Babar.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Uncategorized


Indian Railways freight revenue may rise; here is what is powering the move.

In what could boost the freight earnings of Indian Railways (IR), the net tonne km (NTKM) of the railways — which has been falling for the past two years — has improved, albeit marginally, this financial year. The long leads, or the average distance travelled by per mt of freight, fell to 560 NTKM during financial year 2016-17 compared with 600 the previous year. This was despite the railways announcing a 7% discount on freight charges last year for long lead coal supply.

However, the policy decision taken last year in October to provide all-rail routes for long lead coal supply to power houses has resulted in a growth of around 4% in NTKM this financial year. “We have seen pick in long lead coal. Andhra Pradesh has already shifted to all-rail routes for hinterland plants. Karnataka’s 50% power plants are on all-rail routes and Tamil Nadu for the first time has started taking all-rail routes for some of its plants,” said a railway official requesting not to be named.

The other improvement has come from iron ore demand from Karnataka. Due to mining restrictions in the state and availability of high-quality iron ore in Odisha, demand has picked up. “Jindal Steel at Toranagallu in Karnataka is transporting iron ore produced in Odisha and they more supply from Odisha,” said the railway official, adding that

Indian Railways transported 3.5 rakes of iron ore per day in August for Jindal Steel alone compared with 2.5 rakes per day earlier. “This is the kind of traffic —1,500 km-plus — we need to improve our NTKMs though we have given concessions on merry-go-round systems as well to attract traffic,” said another railway official who also did not want to be named, adding that the transporter will need an NTKM of at least 610 to meet the freight revenue target for 2017-18.

 The railways had put restrictions a couple of years back in view of some of the saturated capacity and coal rakes used to move from, say, Talcher to Paradip port in Odisha, and then from Paradip to Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh by coastal shipping followed by a small rail route to power houses. “There used to be two small legs of railways and there was a longer coastal shipping, which was cheap as well,” said the second official quoted above, adding that despite state generation companies asking for an all-rail route, the railways was unable to provide service due to capacity constraints.


However, an analysis by Indian Railways showed that, for example, coal movement from Talcher in Odisha to Raichur in Karnataka involving coastal and rail shipping was coming to around `4,100 per tonne of freight cost because of two handling, and through all-rail route it was around `3,000. “This almost translated to 50-80 paisa per unit of electricity cost. So an all-rail route is a win-win for both railways and power producers,” added the second official.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Uncategorized



‘Bringing coal back on track is priority for Indian Railways’.

The new Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, who also retains charge of the Coal Ministry, has assumed charge at a time when coal loading in trains is declining.

Coal loading, which accounts for almost half of the Indian Railways’ freight traffic, declined around 2% in April-July due to floods, poor transportation to rail sidings and closure of the Dhanbad- Chandrapura railway line.

Freight accounts for almost 65% of the Railways’ revenues and helps it cross-subsidise passenger earnings.

Coal loading went down to 173.81 million tonnes in April-July from 176.81 million tonnes in the same period the previous year and against the target of 174.71 million tonnes. The decline in coal loading came at a time when the overall goods traffic rose 4.2% to 375.57 million tonnes in the first four months of this financial year.

“Due to floods, there were issues related to transportation of coal to rail sidings,” said a senior Railway Ministry official. He added that the Ministry had been holding regular meetings to discuss the issue with Coal India Limited.

‘Loading time increases’

The average time to load coal on trains has also gone up from the usual four hours. “Large rakes were detained for about five-six hours in some cases at sidings and this also affected the coal loading this year,” the official said.

Around 218 rakes per day were loaded in July as against a target of loading 244 rakes a day. “We have set a target of loading 239 rakes daily in the coming months,” the official said, adding that the Railways has additional rakes to load coal.

Experts said with Mr. Goyal coming in, the coordination between Coal and Railway Ministry will improve. “The same Minister for both Coal and Railway Ministry will bring a lot of synergy. Also, the blame game would also cease between both the departments and issues can be resolved quickly,” former Railway Board Chairman Vivek Sahai said.

However, Mr. Sahai said that another challenge for Mr. Goyal would be to increase the freight basket for the Indian Railways and move beyond coal.

The Railways had initiated a detailed study of as many as 46 commodities to find out the potential sectors which can help increase the freight growth. Some of the areas included refrigerated goods, building material, horticulture, courier express and parcel, marble, glass among others. However, the Railways has not been able to move away from its dependency on coal as yet.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Uncategorized


Railway Board starts work on cleaner, faster train system.

Increase speed to convert more trains into “super-fast” category, fit bio-toilets in all coaches by January 2018, total electrification of railway network in about a year, drastically bring down turnaround time of trains, and improve the look and feel of coaches. These are some of the items on agenda which the Railway Board has started working on since the brief meeting with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday, sources said.

On Tuesday, the Railway Board remained busy preparing implementation strategy on these items. Even though a formal Board meeting is yet to take place, as Board chairman Ashwani Lohani was away, given Goyal’s reputation of being a hard taskmaster, work is on to show the minister a blueprint soon. Each Railway Board member is also preparing 10 big ideas in respective fields for a turnaround of the state of affairs, sources said.

One of the ideas, sources said, is to bring down the turnaround time of each train at destination from the current six hours to about an hour. At the end of every long-distance journey, each train undergoes primary examination of six hours to be ready for the next run. If this time is reduced to an hour by deploying extra manpower, officials said, operating efficiency and potential for earning will increase manifold. The only challenge is to find the required manpower, they added.

While the present target of retrofitting coaches with bio-toilets is 2019-20, Goyal wants that to be completed by January 2018, sources said.

Increasing speed of trains is one of the issues pushed by PM Narendra Modi and the PMO. Goyal appears to have signalled to the bureaucracy that this task will be a priority, and that he would not like delays in implementation. Accordingly, speed of another 700 or so trains will be upgraded in near future. While many passenger trains will be turned into mail or express trains, many of the latter would upgrade to the “super-fast” category, officials said.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Uncategorized


Renewable Target Moves Closer As 750 Indian Railway Stations Receive Solar Boost.

Train stations along one of the most used railway corridors in the world will soon have their dependence on traditional sources of energy loosened thanks to the power of the sun. The 750 stations in north India belonging to Indian Railways, one of the largest railway networks in the world (carrying more than 8 billion passengers annually) has a 25 percent renewable target by 2025. Tropical northern India is blessed with abundant sunlight with 300 sunny days a year, and solar power is a natural alternative to conventional electricity, much of which is generated using coal.

This project will be delivered by ABB India who will provide the solar inverters – the tech that converts the direct current generated by the solar module into alternating current can be used. ABB recently reached a milestone of 5 GW of solar inverters installed, supplying some 40 percent of India’s solar power at approximately 13 GW.

ABB solar inverters for this project vary between 5kW to 50kW in performance depending on the size of the station, part of the ABB Ability of connected solutions, the customer can ensure uptime through remote management services. They will be part of the solar installations being set up by Azure Power. ABB set up its solar inverter manufacturing facility in India in 2012 and contributes to approximately 40 percent of the country’s solar installations. ABB solar inverters have been widely used in the transportation sector, deployed, for instance, in the world’s first fully solar powered airport in Kochi.

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Uncategorized



Sound of train engines, not cartoons piques this 5-year-old boy’s interest.

When Lucknow Metro finally took off on Tuesday , it wasn’t just the city’s dream come true but also that of five-yearold Aman Ojha, who might be the transport system’s youngest fan. 

Aman is extremely passionate about trains and has been closely following the Metro project’s progress for the past two years. The otherwise shy Aman maintains a diary in which he pastes newspaper clippings and photographs of the project’s progress.

On being asked about what fascinates him the most, the five-year-old said, “It’s the speed and the way these trains move. I love the sound of the engine.“ Impressed by the boy’s love for Metro, managing director of Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation Kumar Keshav presented him with a toy train during the project’s inauguration on Tuesday .

The boy’s father, Piyush, said. “He was hardly one-and-a-halfyears old when he first travelled in Rajdhani Express. He liked it so much that he used to jump with joy on seeing a train each time. The day he got to know Lucknow is getting its own Metro, he was overwhelmed and curious.“

A banker, Piyush and his wife take Aman to the railway station every weekend to satiate his inquisi tiveness. “I guess now, it would have to be the Metro station,“ he added.

The five-year-old has already charted out a career plan. No points for guessing what he wants to become–a loco-pilot. “He used to say he wants to become a train driver. One day , he got to know that loco pilot is a more apt term for the profession he’s aspiring for. Since then, he says he wants to become a loco pilot.“

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Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Uncategorized