Tag Archives: Zonal railways

5 key steps Railways has taken to fast track implementation of projects

Looking to push Indian Railways as an engine of growth for the economy, Ministry of Railways has expedited implementation of some key projects announced during this year’s Rail Budget.

“Ministry of Railways included 77 doubling, 4 new line and 1 gauge conversion projects in Railway Budget 2015-16. The projects were included primarily with a viewpoint to create additional carrying capacity. Fast tracking of these projects was need of the hour so as to reap benefits of the projects as s ..

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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Asthi special – a train which can inspire delaying Indian trains

Today’s railway can take inspiration from the train which ran punctually to the minutes and covered its 635 km long journey without incident to bring ashes of Mahatma Gandhi on his final journey from Delhi to Prayag, in spite of the crowds of thousands gathered to pay tribute to the mortal remains of ‘Father of the Nation’ at stations of Khurja, Aligarh, Tundla, Etawah and Kanpur.

As per railway records, ‘Asthi Special’ pilots covered the route 20 minutes ahead of the schedule arrival and arrived Allahabad at 9 am on February 12. The train which left Delhi with National Leaders, press representatives and officials at 6.30 pm on February 11, 1948 took 14 hours 30 minutes which is nearly two and a half hours less than what today’s modern superfast express takes to cover same distance.

Similar rue about trains operations were reiterated in a recent meeting held with 16 General Managers of Zonal railways with MoS for railways Manoj Sinha who were brainstorming on the loses of 150 million passengers in first five months of Financial year 2015-2016. Several officials in the meeting claimed that, “passengers preferred road journeys to the unwelcoming railways. They prefer to pay more to save time than to wait for low fare, unpunctual and crowded trains.”

Speaking to TOI, Hemandar Chaturvedi senior lawyer in the district court of Agra who also possess good grasp on the Indian railways history said, “During emergency (1975-1977) under the leadership of the then railway minister Kamalapati Tripathi, only handful of incidents of train delays were reported across India. Moreover, not a single report of train accidents were reported.”

He said, “The Asthi Special which stopped at all important stations en-route to enable the millions of people waiting at the stations to have a final darshan of the remains of the Gandhi, still managed to reach Prayag before schedule time and without any incident. This was a fitting tribute by the railway men of India to Mahatma Gandhi, who value punctuality and orderliness highly….which was also said by then then Chief Commissioner of Railways K C Bakhle who was in-charge for the arrangements for conveying the Asthi from Delhi to Allahabad.”

Speaking on anonymity, senior official of railway said, “What Asthi special train achieved on February 12 was remarkable, but one has to understand that number of trains since 1948 has increased several folds. Today railway operates nearly 21,000 trains of which about 13,000 passenger trains ferry more than 23 million passengers and freight trains carry around 3 million tonnes of freight per day.”

“Considering this mammoth operations of transportation, one is bound to get delay now and then or may even face accidents,” he claimed.

As per railways, in last two years rail accidents killed at least 174 people and injured 658, while 21 trains accidents have been reported since early 2014.


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Posted by on October 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Railways contemplating disposable linen for a price

Swamped by thousands of complaints regarding the supply of dirty linen on board trains, Indian Railways is contemplating introduction of disposable towels, pillow covers and maybe even bed sheets for a price. The railways has started an online survey to find out what people desire and how much they are willing to pay for a peaceful night’s rest while travelling. There have been instances when passengers have pointed to stains on bed sheets and pillow covers and demanded that these be replaced. Bedroll porters are known to throw up their hands in despair and show how all linen stocked in coaches are similarly soiled and crushed.

Earlier, zonal railways used to hire launderers to wash used linen. This resulted in chaos with many launderers failing to supply fresh bed sheets, pillow covers and towels on time. Those in charge of issuing bedrolls to passengers were then forced to recycle used linen. Now, Eastern Railway has set up a mechanized laundry at Tikiapara that has capacity to wash 4,000 bedrolls (8,000 bed sheets, 4,000 pillow covers and 4,000 towels) everyday. South Eastern Railway has also commissioned a similar laundry at Santragachi of 2,000 bedrolls capacity. This will be augmented to 6,000 bedrolls in the future.

“Given the number of trains and the increase in upper-class passengers, this may not be sufficient. Apart from regular bedrolls, there are plans to introduce disposable ones for people who are ready to pay extra. Regular bedrolls are supplied without any additional cost to air-conditioned passengers,” a senior officer in Delhi said.

The survey launched by the railways begins with the age group of the respondent, his or her occupation and the frequency of travel. Respondents must also reveal what class they travel in and whether they carry beddings along. The next set of questions is about the quality of bedrolls supplied on trains and satisfaction levels. The survey then wants to know whether respondents would prefer disposable linen.

“The survey goes beyond hygiene and cleanliness. Respondents are asked what quality of bed sheets they would prefer and even their choice of colour. The choices given are light colour, white or dark shades. People are also asked whether they would prefer printed bed sheets and the kind of pattern on them. The choices are large prints, small all over prints or geometric prints. Passengers can also say whether they prefer cotton, cotton polyester or polyester sheets,” the official said.

The final portion of the survey deals with whether passengers want disposable pillow covers. Respondents are also asked how much they are prepared to shell out. There are multiple choices. Passengers can choose Rs 60 and the maximum is between Rs 120 and Rs 150. The final question is whether passengers want the bedrolls to have fire retardant properties.


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Posted by on July 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Railway minister urges general managers to travel with passengers and sign MoUs for station upgrade

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu during a video-conference with general managers of all 17 zones, urged them to take steps to enhance passenger amenities and seek feedback during the ‘Customer Facilitation Fortnight’ commencing May 26. The GMs have been asked to travel in suburban and passenger trains during that period and interact with passengers to get firsthand feedback. Prabhu has also directed the Railway Board to sign Memorandums of Understanding with Railway PSUs for better passenger amenities at 10 stations.

“These stations are Mumbai CST, Howrah, New Delhi, Guwahati, Patna, Varanasi, Vadodara, Chennai, Agra and Bengaluru. The MoUs should be signed with PSUs such as CONCOR, IRCTC, IRCON, RITES and RVNL, assigning them two stations each for bringing about visible improvement in passenger amenities through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) schemes. The MoUs will have to clearly indicate what kind of amenities each PSU can provide. The MoUs will have one-year, two-year and five-year targets. In addition to this, the Railway Board may also sign MoUs with select zonal railways, granting them more autonomy with attendant accountability. Railway zones may also sign MoUs with state governments for Special Purpose Vehicles for infrastructure development,” a senior officer in the Railway Board said.

The GMs have also been directed to meet state chief secretaries and other officials to discuss issues such as cleanliness, law and order and safety at level crossings. Meetings between divisional railway managers and passengers’ associations and chambers of commerce should also be held to help in better understanding of problems, the minister has directed. The general managers have also been instructed to involve railway unions to interact with passengers and highlight achievements. Intensive drives will also have to be launched by all zones to check the quality of catering both on trains and at stations, Prabhu has said.

“The other thrust areas are safety awareness drives, monitoring of punctuality and cleanliness and sanitation drives at all stations. The minister has also instructed that the zonal railways start skill development courses for local youth in batches of 100,” the officer added.


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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Railway platform ticket to cost Rs 10 from April 1

Railways have doubled the cost of platform tickets to Rs 10 with effect from April 1.

The rate of platform ticket will be increased from Rs 5 to Rs 10 per ticket, and all concerned have been given instruction regarding this, according to a railway ministry release on Monday.

Railways have given directions to all Zonal Railways to print the revised tickets on top priority and ensure supply to all stations well in time.

However, till such time the tickets are printed, the existing stock of tickets will be used with the rate corrected with a stamp.

The software is being modified accordingly so that revised rate is collected at the counters.

Additionally, the divisional railway managers (DRMs) have been empowered to increase the rate of a platform ticket beyond Rs 10 to regulate rush at platforms during specific occasions like fairs and rallies.

Platforms witness heavy rush during fairs or rallies causing inconvenience to other passengers.

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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Top Notch LIC Agents Get to Party on Entire Train for the First Time

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), in addition to handling ticketing, catering and tourism,is now offering corporates the option to book an entire train for organising team outings.

In January, this facility was used by Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for the first time to reward its high-performing agents from Kerala and Tamil Nadu on an all-expenses paid trip to Goa.

Nearly 2,000 LIC agents were chosen for the tour which included accommodation, sight-seeing and food, apart from sleeper-class train travel organised by IRCTC. The transaction between the two public sector companies was around `1 crore.

The deal was spread across three trips between January 16 and February 6 with trains departing from Chennai, Trivandrum and Tirunelveli. LIC agents were picked up from stations en route as well.

“Agents who generated business of more than `5 lakh worth of premiums were selected,” said P Subramaniam, an LIC agent who was part of the trip. “The arrangements were elaborate and very comfortable,” said LIC Zonal Manager T. Siddharthan.

IRCTC officials told Express that this facility could be used by corporations for taking large number of employees on trips across India.

“But it has to be on routes where the railways have good infrastructure like tracks, good stations, water availability and maintenance staff. The route to Goa is well-developed, so it worked well,” the railway officials said.

After a proposal is made, the zonal railways would work out the dates when traffic would be less on a paticular route. “Clients have to be flexible with the dates,” the officials added.

This was the beginning of a tie-up between the southern zones of LIC and IRCTC which would handle booking services for LIC officials in the near future, IRCTC sources indicated.

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Posted by on March 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Railways: only giant reforms will do

While there is tremendous anticipation for the next Union budget, the conversation on railway budget is relatively muted. By the time newspapers will be flush with opinion pieces on railways, the bureaucrats at Rail Bhawan will be giving final touches to the year’s budget. The prime minister has already announced that the next Union budget will be full of new ideas with measurable deliverables. Likewise, the rail budget too should talk of ideas and not present a laundry list of announcements.

The expected surge in growth and its heterogeneous spatial distribution will trigger massive internal migration of men and material. Railways has the opportunity to shape and facilitate such migration, in the process becoming a tool for growth itself. To start, the forthcoming rail budget needs to identify the problems and take giant steps—nothing less will do—towards reversing the widely documented decline of the railway sector. The first and topmost concern with railways is the institutional disregard for certain factors that go into the making of the technology-intensive industry that it is.

The second concern with the railways has been the slow pace of technology adoption. The coaches traditionally made on Integral Coach Factory (ICF) design are not safe at increasing speeds. These coaches have to be replaced by Link Hoffman Busch (LHB) design coaches. The speed of replacement leaves a lot to be desired. The story repeats itself whether one talks of electrification of railway lines or adoption of new signalling systems. The third bottleneck, and one of the greatest to any systemic enhancement, is the organizational structure of Indian Railways. The Railway Board performs the three-in-one role of policy framer, operator and regulator at the same time. The management is top heavy— zonal railways and divisional railways are not empowered enough to use funds and assets available to them in the manner they think appropriate. A high level railway restructuring committee chaired by Bibek Debroy is closely looking at this issue (Full disclosure: I am currently assisting Partha Mukhopadhyay who is a member of this committee).

he fourth and most well-known impediment in better performance output of railways is political interference. In order to satisfy various constituencies, railway ministers kept introducing new trains and coaches without commensurate upgrade of back-end infrastructure. Between 1993 and 2011, the wholesale price index rose by 295% and the fares of sleeper class and second class travel rose just by 144% and 106% respectively. The encroachment of railway property—not an uncommon sight—has not been adequately dealt with, apprehending political backlash. Railway has been viewed as an instrument to square the circle of patron-client relationship of Indian politics. Suresh Prabhu, the new railway minister, has till now made all the right noises. Let us hope that he recognizes the sole constituency he has to satisfy is the future of Indian Railways and no other.

Kunal Singh is a research associate at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Uncategorized


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