Tag Archives: locomotives

Loco deals will not hit existing units: Railways

Indian Railways says its existing production units will not be hit by the government’s plan to set up new facilities to make locomotives and coaches on a joint venture basis.

Till date, the Railways has fully-owned production units to produce locomotives, coaches and wheels.“Nobody wants to build new things at the cost of old one. We are going for a major expansion. We are building the dedicated freight corridor, which will create huge track capacity. These locomotives will be used in the new freight corridors,” said Navin Tandon, Member-Electrical, Railway Board.

For the recently concluded bids for two new locomotives and one coach factory with 26 per cent ownership, GE and Alstom Transport have emerged winners. The winning bidder will provide 74 per cent stake and technology to build factories.

Similarly, the Railways plans to set up a coach factory in Kachhrapara on a joint venture basis.

“Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Diesel Locomotive Works Varanasi, Integral Coach Factory Chennai, Rail Coach factory at Kapurthala and Rail Coach Factory at Rae Bareilly will continue to do the work they are doing. Three new factories will also continue to operate,” said Tandon.

Moreover, opportunities for railway officials already employed in factories cannot be ruled out. On whether Alstom would be hiring people from production units of the Indian Railways, Bharat Salhotra, Managing Director, Alstom Transport India, said “No, I don’t think we would be doing that as we have our own processes. But, at the same time we are always looking for good people from within the country and outside. And let’s not forget, this is not just Alstom, this is Alstom and Indian Railways partnership.”

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Posted by on November 15, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Adventure, fun, history: The curious pastime of ‘railfanning’

There is an often-quoted joke among railway enthusiasts that a rail buff standing in a station is more interested in watching a locomotive than a good-looking woman who might pass by. If there is something that binds such people from across the world, it is their passion for trains. And, it is a bond that has become stronger with the advent of social media.

Rail fans are die-hard enthusiasts who gather details about anything related to railways. Some of them are so passionate about their ‘railfanning’ that they go to any extent just to enjoy a good train journey . Some also sign up actively for volunteer services, including cleaning drives initiated by the railways.

“Railfanning does not have age or barriers. Trains have been fascinating people for several decades,” says Vaidyanathan Krishnamurthy , a 71-year-old rail fan from Bengaluru.

With the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp, rail fans have become more active than ever, rapidly sharing every detail they get.

Many fans have specific areas of interest. For instance, some are interested only in locomotives and track their movement. They can distinguish locomotives by their liveries, which are specific designs on them. Some even give the locomotives names according to their colours, peculiar names like ‘ Barbie Doll’, ‘ Tiger Face’ and ‘ White Beast’.

“Railfanning was always there. People were doing it independently , but now with social networking sites, we can share this interest among others,” says S K Pragadeesh, a postgraduate student in Trichy .

Pune-based Apurva Bahadur, a rail fan for the last 25 years, has a more philosophical view of things. ” We should not forget that India and Indian Railways are interconnected, and evolved together. In short, the railways unite the country by transporting people from one corner to another,” he says.

Interest in trains takes these rail fans to all kinds of places. Some go on long journeys just so they can take pictures of the trains, while others hop on for a short trip to ease stress. for a short trip to ease stress.There are even fans who go to other countries so they can travel in trains there.

A Chennai-based rail fan group travelled to Malaysia to catch a glimpse of the trains there, since most of the meter gauge (MG) locomotives operated in that country were shipped from India after MG sections were dismantled here.

Another stream of rail fans study the lost and abandoned railway networks in the country . For example, it is believed that there was a railway track to Kulasekarapattinam in Tuticorin during the British regime and it was lost over the period. ” There are hundreds of such lost railway networks, tracks and rolling stocks.Researching on these is an emerging thing among rail fans,” said M Arun Pandian, a Chennai-based Pandian, a Chennai-based rail fan.

But extreme passion has also caused rail fans to run into trouble. There have been cases of fans being run over while taking photos of trains.

” It is heartening to see the immense interest some people have towards the railways. But their overenthusiasm results in trouble at times because they assume they know better than railway employees,” commented a railway official from Madurai division.

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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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CR’s Parel workshop rolls out 100th non-customer engine

Central Railway (CR)’s Parel workshop in the city has rolled out its 100th indigenously manufactured engine in non-customer category, since its inception in 2007.

The locomotive, comes with a micro-processor based control system, Central Railway Chief PRO Narendra Patil told reporters here yesterday.

The system activates the brakes and cuts off the fuel supply in case of any fault in the engine.

The WDS6 diesel engine has 1350 HP and weighs 126 tonne, he said.

This is the 100th engine in the non-customer (non-passenger) category made at the workshop since it started in 2007, Patil said.

Business standard

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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Visakhapatnam Diesel Loco Shed Crosses a Milestone

Elaborate arrangements have been made for the golden jubilee celebrations of the India’s largest Loco Shed – Visakhapatnam Diesel Loco Shed. The VDLS, Waltair, was established in 1965 and started its operations on May 2 in the undivided South Eastern Railway. It is the only loco shed serving the needs of East Coast Railway after the trifurcation of the SER in 2003.

Its covered area accommodates 32 locomotives at a time. The service building has spread over 14,645 Sq.Mts, for maintenance of locos. The shed also houses a diesel training centre for staff. At present there are about 2,000 people working there.

According to senior divisional commercial manager M Yelvender Yadav, VDLS has been earning considerable income by undertaking maintenance activities of major schedules and component overhauling for RITES, RINL, VPT, and NMDC. To cater to the maintenance of the increased fleet of HHP locomotives, work for its capacity augmentation at a cost of Rs 53 crore was sanctioned this year, Yadav informed.

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Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


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End of the line for India’s national railways?

India is a trainspotter’s paradise. The rail network has more than 9,000 locomotives – 43 of which are still steam-powered. This vast fleet pulls almost half a million wagons and more than 60,000 passenger coaches over 115,000 or so kilometres (70,000 miles) of track.

The railways operate more than 12,000 trains, carrying some 23 million passengers daily.

This vast public enterprise is virtually a state within a state. It runs schools, hospitals, police forces and building companies and employs a total of 1.3 million people, making it the seventh biggest employer in the world.But it could soon be broken up.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been chided for a lack of radical reform since he took power last year. Yet potentially hugely controversial proposals to restructure the country’s railways slipped through last week with barely a ripple.

They came from a committee exploring options for reform of Indian Railways, the state-owned enterprise that runs the country’s train network, and borrow heavily from the British experience of railway privatisation.

The committee’s interim report is unambiguous: Indian Railways needs a bracing injection of competition.It says the network should be opened up so private companies can run passenger and freight services in competition with the state.

It argues the track should be separated from the train operation business, just it was in Britain. And, just as in Britain, it proposes the whole thing be overseen by an independent regulator whose job is to ensure the new private operators get fair access to the track.
The committee wants to shake up the rolling stock business too. Private companies already make wagons for the network – they should be allowed to supply passenger coaches and locomotives as well, the report argues.

The authors fear that Indian Railways’ manufacturing operations would wither in the face of competition so it suggests they be placed in a new independent company.

This would remain publicly owned but would be arms-length from the state and would be free to set salaries and borrow money as it saw fit.

In the meantime, management structures and accounting systems across the network need to be completely overhauled. It is impossible to work out whether a project makes money or not, complains committee chief and economist Bibek Debroy.

The report also urges that Indian Railways should stop running its myriad hospitals, schools, police forces and other non-core activities.
India’s biggest railway union has attacked the report, claiming it is an attempt to privatise the railways.
That’s something Mr Modi has explicitly ruled out.

“We are not privatising railways,” he assured trade unions last year. “You do not have to worry, it is neither our wish or nor thinking.”
Yet Mr Modi could adopt all the committee’s recommendations without breaking his promise to the unions. The report’s authors are careful to avoid the “P” word.

“There is a difference between privatisation and competition,” explains Gurcharan Das, one of the committee members and a former chief executive of Proctor and Gamble India.

“We don’t want to sell off the railways, what we want to do is introduce competition. That will bring more choice, lower prices and higher standards,” he argues.

But you can’t blame the unions for being anxious about privatisation. There may be no intention to sell them now, but all these new stand-alone businesses would be ripe for a future sell-off.

Trainspotters shouldn’t be too concerned, though. New train operating companies mean lots of lovely new liveries to note down in their little books.

BBC news

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Posted by on April 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Indian bullet train could transform subcontinent – if it ever arrives

It is business as usual down at Nizamuddin railway station in Delhi. Crowds press across the footbridge, fighting the ragged porters bearing baggage on their heads going the other way. A family makes a wall of luggage and sits down to lunch behind it. A horde of children in festive hats crowd on to platform seven. Supporters from two rival amateur cricket teams eye each other warily on platform five.

Rohit Saxena, a recently retired bureaucrat, is waiting for the Gondwana Express, which will take him 1,000 km (600 miles) across plains, forests and hills to the city of Jabalpur. It is a comfortable journey, the 61-year-old said, but, at 18 hours, “a little long”.

“If you take the train in India you have to have time,” Saxena said.

Yet, as with so much in this fast developing country, transformative change is on the way. Even if, like the Gondwana Express, it might take substantially longer to arrive than some may hope.

That change was signalled last week when minister Suresh Prabhu told parliamentarians that a feasibility study for trains capable of scything through the Indian countryside at up to 400 km/h would report in a matter of months.

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has raised the prospect of India developing a network of bullet trains, such as those pioneered by Japan and France.

Modi won a landslide electoral victory last year with a pledge to boost flagging growth in the emerging power and invest in its crumbling infrastructure. The trains were featured in campaign speeches as a symbol of the technologically potent nation he envisaged, and even made their way into the manifesto of his Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), alongside the construction of 100 smart cities and a cleanup of the heavily polluted river Ganges.

But building the half-dozen proposed bullet train lines proposed would, it turns out, be hugely expensive. Prabhu, the minister of railways, warned parliament that the cost of each kilometre would be well in excess of £10m, in what observers said was a subtle bid to lower expectations.

Analysts say the funds needed may rule out any such network for many decades.

“For India to try to build a fully state-owned [bullet train] network would be disastrous,” said Samir Saran, of the Observer Research Foundation thinktank.

Few doubt the need for massive investment in India’s overcrowded and underfunded railways, particularly given regional rival China’s massive splurge in a new network of trains running at 400km/h or more. One newspaper recently termed the rivalry the “Dragon v the Sloth Bear”.

“I am a firm believer that if this country is going to progress, [the] railways are the only mode of transport whereby we can meet the threat posed to the world by China,” said Vivek Khare, an author of a book on the Indian railway.

Indian trains today average under 60 km/h which, though an improvement on 50km/h several decades ago, still puts them among the slowest in the world.

Though car ownership has surged and low-cost airlines have boomed through three decades of rapid economic growth, railways have been neglected by successive governments, even though they remain the main means of long-distance transport for hundreds of millions of people.

One alternative to the bullet trains is what has been described as a “semi-bullet train”.

An adapted local locomotive set a new speed record during a test between Delhi, the capital, and the city of Agra, home to the famous Taj Mahal late last year.

The train managed to run at 160km/h for a short distance, completing the 190 km trip in around 90 minutes. Foreign-made locomotives might also be used, officials have said.

“High-speed trains should be the dream of a developed India but each country has its characteristics. We have to make up our slowness and delay and this is a very uphill task,” said Khare.

The most ambitious line currently planned for “semi-bullet” trains, would eventually connect the eastern port city of Kolkata with Delhi. Currently the journey can take 36 hours.

Eventually, it is hoped, a new national network of upgraded and additional high-speed track – dubbed the diamond quadrilateral – will be in service.

Despite aged rolling stock, buckling tracks, wandering elephants and Maoist guerillas, Indian Railway’s 1.25 million employees run 17,000 trains carrying up to 25 million people every day.

Costs of train tickets have been kept low for decades to help the poor in India, though this has meant wealthier customers turning to the burgeoning air sector.

Christian Wolmar, the UK-based transport writer, said that, as China had successfully built a vast new bullet train network, there was “no reason why India shouldn’t”.

“It would be transformational. It’s not just about speed but about creating a new network and adding fantastic amounts of capacity. Given how full trains are in India and how bad roads are, it’s a great alternative,” Wolmar said.

Major infrastructure projects in India are notoriously difficult to both launch and to complete, facing multiple problems of engineering capacity, bureaucracy, political interference, land acquisition and finance.

One success however has been a series of modern airports built across the country, and mass transit systems such as the £450m Delhi metro.

There are fears about safety too. Accidents are common. A derailment last week killed 30 people in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Saran, the analyst, said that a less ambitious plan which would use public funds to bring in private finance to build “commercially viable” individual lines would be more sensible.

India has extended its rail network by only around 10,000km to 65,000km since winning its independence from Britain in 1947.

The railways have long played a key cultural role in the country, featuring in many of its greatest films and books, as well as being central to some of its most important historical events.

“It is the nerve system of the nation,” said Khare. “It’s failure will lead to our collapse. It is this important.”

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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Railways eyes tech to shorten training time for drivers

In a bid to condense the 17-week training period so that loco pilots can be made available faster to operate trains, railways is planning to set up an advanced centre at Avadi with sophisticated simulators under the PPP or joint venture model.

The plan has been mooted because a modern simulator would help cut down duration of training and help tide over shortage of loco pilots to run trains. Railways are under pressure to induct more loco pilots as the demand for trains goes up every year.

There is currently a 20% shortage of loco pilots in Southern Railway. This makes it crucial for railways to reduce time taken for a fresh recruit to complete training as early as possible.

The training centre has been placed on the list of projects to be undertaken with private funding. Railway ministry hopes that private locomotive manufacturers may show interest in the project to be set up inside the EMU workshop in Avadi.

“Training is already given to loco pilots recruited for electric locomotives including suburban trains at Avadi. A simulator was installed for them in 2006. And it takes 17 weeks to complete a training programme. A refresher course is also given. But the ministry believes that a sophisticated simulator and a new training centre will help cut down the training period further,” said a senior railway official.

The training is also being revamped as level of technological sophistication in controls and operations goes up.

Over the years, railways has cut down the duration of post-recruitment training from 52 weeks to 39 weeks and now to 17 weeks. It was a mismatch between recruitment (supply) and the introduction of new trains (demand) that forced the ministry to truncate training time and lay more emphasis on real-time learning on the job.

A loco pilot said it was, however, tough to learn on the job because there were a lot of distractions. “The number of man days for training need to be increased because types of locomotives have also increased while the basic qualification for the job remains a diploma from an Industrial Training Institute (ITI),” he added.



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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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