The little box at Rail Bhavan

V Ravi Shankar

THANK you, Indian Railways! It was May 28 this year, I had been detailed to attend a meeting in New Delhi at a very short notice. Having been brought up on a culture of “speaking” to somebody for any and everything, I was apprehensive when I did not get the reserved ticket. I was travelling from Hardwar to New Delhi. Since my unit operated the Passenger Reservation System (PRS), while proceeding, I ‘spoke’ to the operator, who in turn ‘spoke’ to the person concerned at Hardwar and confirmed the ticket.

The meeting over, I realised I had to return! It was a problem once I reached Delhi. There was not a single person I knew on my return journey and I had to reach the duty station on a Monday morning. My days of “knowing” the right persons had long been over (I had been posted to Delhi once, where I prided myself at “knowing” someone who could help).

That’s when someone told me about the Head Office (HO) quota. It is a small box kept outside the Rail Bhavan, where the CISF guard is posted. I was told it is religiously taken out and screened. Anyone who feels that it is impossible to get a confirmed ticket, makes a fervent plea, vide this little box. Invariably, the quota is allotted.

I had a hearty laugh. Maybe it is akin to “presidential pardon”, I thought! How can — in a country where for everything you need to “know”/speak to the right person — a simple application suffice? What the hell! I thought of giving it a try. As it is, my ticket was waitlisted at No. 9 on AC-1, and I knew it stood little chance of confirmation.

With great trepidation, I wrote out the application, and as luck would have it, I reached late that day. The box had already been taken out. My train was the day after. The next day, like a drowning man would clutch at a straw, I went and dropped it first thing in the morning.

Thereafter, on the hour, every hour, I kept checking the Internet. The ticket gradually came down from nine to four, to finally steady at two. When I had given up all hope, just before the chart was to be prepared, imagine my joy when I saw “HO, CNF” against my PNR status.

I was beyond myself with glee and would recommend the little “box” to anyone in Delhi who feels that his ticket needs to be confirmed. No talking, no pleading…just a simple application with a xerox of the ticket into the little box should take care of it. Thank you, Indian Railways! You are great.

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com

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Rail safety system averts Churchgate repeat at CST

A local train exceeding speed limit was stopped by the automatic application of emergency brakes at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on Wednesday. An Auxiliary Warning System (AWS) installed at the station triggered the emergency brakes on the Kasara-CST fast local, averting an incident similar to that in June when a local train crashed into the buffers at the Churchgate station.

The train stopped at the middle of the platform and the passengers and motorman Babu Nanu were safe. “The permissible speed at CST is 10 kmph. Motormen cannot exceed this speed at the station. However, motorman Nanu drove the 10.35 Kasara fast local, which was late by 5 minutes, probably at 15kmph at CST,” said a Central Railway official.

“We installed the AWS after a local train overshot at the Churchgate station. If the speed is more than 10 kmph, AWS gets activated automatically and emergency brakes are applied. Before the AWS activates the brakes, it alerts the driver through a sound. In this situation, the driver probably could not understand the sound and emergency brakes were automatically applied,” said the official.

“I was in the train immediately after the motorman’s coach. I could not understand what went wrong. Suddenly, the train halted in the middle of CST and I alighted. The driver mentioned that nothing was serious,” said a commuter Bharati Dubey. Confirming the incident, Public Relations Officer, CR, AK Singh said, “Our AWS was working.”

Source Link: https://in.news.yahoo.com

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Railways offer confirmed seats on alternate trains

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) The Indian Railways on Thursday announced the launch of a scheme on pilot basis from November 1 to provide confirmed seats to wait-listed passengers on alternate trains.

The pilot project scheme ‘Vikalpa‘ would be implemented for six months on the Delhi-Lucknow and the Delhi-Jammu routes. It will initially be available for tickets booked online.

Under the scheme, wait-listed passengers of a train can opt for confirmed seats on alternate trains.

“Neither extra money will be charged nor refund provided for difference in fares,” the ministry of railways said in a statement, adding that a passenger allotted alternate seat could travel in the alternate train on authority of the original ticket.

Wait-listed passengers of a train will not be allowed to board it if allotted seat on alternate train, the statement said.

“If found travelling, they will be treated as travelling without ticket and charged accordingly,” the railways said.

Noting that opting for the scheme did not mean a confirmed berth will be provided to a passenger in alternate train, the ministry clarified it was subject to availability of trains and berths.
Once confirmed in alternate train, the ticket cancellation charges will be as per the berth or train status in the alternate train, according to the statement.

Source Link: https://in.news.yahoo.com

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Indian Railways Develops Hybrid Vacuum Toilets

One Prototype is Fitted in a Coach of Dibrugarh Rajdhani for Trail

Minister of Railways has made a statement in the Budget Speech 2015 that Indian Railways shall fit Vacuum toilets on trains. Development Cell of the Railway Board has come up with a design that combines the advantages of Vacuum toilets and those of Biotoilets to create a new design of “Hybrid Vacuum Toilet”. A prototype has been made by modifying the standard flushing protocol of a vacuum toilet so as to create water seal and additional post flush cycles and this concept has been converted into a working prototype by Indian Railways as a first ever system of its kind to have been developed and built by any railway system in the world. This newly developed toilet has been fitted in one coach No. 153002/C FAC that is running in Dibrugarh Rajdhani for trail.

The prototype consists of a custom designed Vacuum toilet adapted from a commercially available vacuum toilet that is used in aircrafts which evacuates its discharge into a biodigester tank which is now successfully proven in the biotoilets of Indian Railways. The biodigester tank is fitted underneath the coach and contains anaerobic bacteria that converts human fecal matter into water and small amount of gases before discharging the same on the ground/track.

Typically, a conventional toilet or Biotoilet uses 10 – 15 liters of water per flush whereas the vacuum toilet consumes only appx. 500 ml of water for flushing. Water is a very precious natural resource therefore this innovation shall save water to the tune of at least 1/20th of the quantity that is used in the current design of biotoilets/conventional toilets. Further, in foreign countries where the train coaches that are fitted with Vacuum toilets, there is a “retention tank” underneath the coach that holds all the human waste that is flushed out by the toilet. These are very large tanks that need to be evacuated at the terminals stations. Since Indian Railways trains traverse the length and breadth of the country with journey times as long as 72 hours and generally over 50 passengers per coach, it is nearly impossible to hold the human waste in retention tanks on trains that travel such long distances. Also, the stationary facilities for evacuation of these holding tanks need to be maintained very carefully and meticulously or else their malfunction will render the entire train’s toilets unusable. The Municipal Corporations at cities where these ground-handling facilities are to be created have to be taken into confidence to allow one-shot rapid discharge of human waste of an entire train into their sewer systems, which may not be possible at all stations due to constraints in existing sewer system that are already in place.

By transferring the discharge of the vacuum toilets into biodigester, the need to create separate ground handling installation and creating additional sewer load on the Municipal Corporation will be done away with.

Source Link: Press Information Bureau

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Govt eyes railway facilities to conduct skill development programmes

The government is in the process of selecting certain railway stations to conduct skill development programmes at their facilities. Minister of State for Skill Development (Independent charge) Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the Railways has great potential to partner and incentivise skill development. “So, we have had a major partnership with Railways. We are going to select a few stations. The process is on and skill development is going to start. We have started rolling it out. In a couple of months, we will find some stations functioning like that”, Rudy told PTI in Hyderabad.

The Indian Railways and the Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Ministry have signed an MoU for the former to provide space and manpower to carry out skill development programmes across the country. The idea is to use the capacity of these railway stations by using the spare space available there for virtual training like classrooms, for soft skills to connect them to the world; or use the infrastructure. “Railways has the largest construction capacity, so through IRCON, to train their workers, to do recognition of prior learning for these skilled manpower”, Rudy said.

On the partnership with Indian Railways, he noted that it has the largest infrastructure in the country including about 6,0000 railway stations across the country and a 43,000 km optical fibre network. There are about 6,000 railway stations out of which 5,000 railway stations are those in which one or less trains stop. So, these three things are there with each and every railway station in this country. “One, they have an infrastructure which means a shed or a building with water and sanitation facility. Two, they have dedicated electricity network; and thirdly which is not there in any other location, is the optical fibre network which is 43,000 km”, he said. The railway infrastructure is also located in inaccessible hinterland where substantial population of the country lives, he said.

“And they pass through locations which are generally very inaccessible. They pass through villages, mountains, forests and they access the hinterland. Large parts of India live in hinterlands which is not accessible by roads”, the minister said. With the signing of the MoU, National Skill Development Corporation will be able to provide the right platform to a large number of the rural unemployed youth to learn skills that will help them become economically self-reliant and productive.

The Skill Development Ministry is trying to raise resources through multiple sources to raise funds for the ambitious target of training about 50 crore people, Rudy said. We are trying to look for multi-lateral funding because large resources are required. So, for training 50 crore people plus another 10 crore people who are joining the work force, large resources are required. “We are tapping all sorts of sources, whether it is defence offset, whether we are talking CSR, government funding, non-governmental funding and private partnership, state support through a combination of things we are trying to raise resources”, he said. The government has set a target of skilling 40.2 crore people by 2022 under the new National Policy for Skill Development.

Source:Press Trust of India, August 16, 2015 at 6:19 pm

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India should go for high-speed trains for faster growth: China

BEIJING: India should opt for bullet trains together with raising speed of trains on existing tracks to boost economic growth by improving connectivity, a combination that worked for China as well, a top railway official said here today.

With over a billion population and a large territorial area, India and China share the same conditions and up- gradation of railway infrastructure will result in faster economic development, Zhao Guotang, Deputy Chief Engineer of the China Railway said.

As China went through massive development phase in the last decades becoming the second largest economy, China faced the same dilemma as India whether to increase the speed of its tracks or go for the construction of bullet trains, he told an Indian media and think tank delegation at a briefing.

Asked what would be his recommendation for India, he said a combination of both may be good but bullet trains could enable people to travel faster which in turn will have huge impact on economy, he said.

India has stepped up cooperation with China to modernize its railways with agreements in a number of area including speed raising of the tracks, (Chennai-Mysore sector via Bangalore), training of 100 railway personnel in heavy haulage, setting up of railway university and modernizing railway stations.

Besides this, China is currently conducting feasibility study for a high speed railway in the over 2000 km long New Delhi-Chennai corridor, while Japan is doing the same for Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor.

Zhao said China currently operates hundreds of bullet trains in 40 high speed lines spanning 16,000 kms.

On the 1,300 km long Beijing-Shanghai line alone, China railway operates 180 bullet trains on normal days and 240 on Sundays, which means a train every five minutes or so.

As China pitches for exporting its high speed technology abroad, Zhao made a strong case for India to opt for Chinese technology claiming that it was far advanced than that of Japanese because China entered the filed far latter and its technology is more contemporary.

China also has highly trained frontline staff who could deliver the projects with wider savings of time and resources.

“It is true in the beginning of our High Speed Rail (HSR) development, we had lot of cooperation with Japan and we learned something from them. We have late starter advantage. It is a big step compared with the Japanese technology,” he said.

“In one word the front tier of China’s HSR have a rich management experience and they will surely play a decisive role in the construction in India’s HSR,” he said.

Source Link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Delhi University Students Harness Wind Energy Produced by Metro Trains

NEW DELHI: A group of Delhi University students has discovered an innovative way of harnessing wind energy churned out by Metro trains to generate electricity.

The project, undertaken by Kalindi College, has also got the backing of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which allowed the students to install a turbine on trial basis at one of the underground metro stations.

“While standing at a metro station one day, the students realised that the wind energy produced in the tunnel by these fast moving trains gets wasted, and they decided to find out how it can be harnessed,” said Dr Punita Verma, Principal Investigator of the project.

The team, involving ten students of Physics and Computer Science departments, proposed setting up a turbine at an underground metro station to check if it can be successful in harnessing the wind.

DMRC officials found the project interesting and gave the nod to install a turbine at Chandni Chowk metro station. “Without obstructing the operation, safety and security of Metro services, it was decided to put up turbine along the underground tracks at the mouth of tunnel where the maximum wind velocity available is 6.5 m/s.

“In the first phase, we installed a three-blade turbine and later a five-blade light rotor turbine with a cut-in speed of less than 1.5m/s. We connected it to a battery and measured the power it generates. We also discovered that different stations have different construction and the same turbines cannot be used at all the metro stations,” Ms Verma said.

The project, which has was started by a different group of students in 2013, has received a grant of Rs. 15 lakh from the university.

While the first phase involved the research work, the DMRC engineers were later roped in to test the feasibility, who have asked the team to develop the concept further.

“We are now working on different designs of the turbines whose size, shape and orientation will be customised according to the wind velocity and frequency of trains at different stations. Once the design is approved by DMRC, turbine firms will be approached to make these turbines,” Ms Verma said.

Source – NDTV

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Railway to setup Medical Colleges for the wards of Railway Employees

LOKSABHA UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 1321

ANSWERED ON 01.12.2014

SETTING UP OF MEDICAL COLLEGES BY RAILWAYS

1321 . Ering Shri Ninong

Will the Minister of RAILWAYS be pleased to state:-

(a) the details of medical colleges proposed to be set up by the Railways in the country including North-East, and the present status of each of these projects, location-wise;

(b) whether the Railways have allotted the requisite land for setting up of these medical colleges;

(c) if so, the details thereof and if not, the reasons therefor;

(d) the details of funds allocated/released/utilized for the purpose so far, project-wise; and

(e) the steps taken/being taken by the Railways to set up these medical colleges in a time bound manner?

ANSWER

MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF RAILWAYS (SHRI MANOJ SINHA)

(a) to (e): A statement is laid on the Table of the House.

STATEMENT REFERRED TO IN REPLY TO PARTS (a) To (e) OF UNSTARRED QUESTION NO.1321 BY SHRI NINONG ERING TO BE ANSWERED IN LOK SABHA ON 01.12.2014 REGARDING SETTING UP OF MEDICAL COLLEGES BY RAILWAYS.

(a)& (e) The then Hon’ble MR in the budget 2009-10 had announced that Medical Colleges were planned to be established attached to existing railway hospitals through Public Private Partnership (PPP), to give higher education facilities to new generation of railway children at 18 locations i.e. at Chennai, Hyderabad, Bilaspur, Lucknow, Barasat, Bhubaneswar, Mysore, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Jodhpur, Garden-Reach, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, B.R. Singh Hospital (Kolkata), Bhopal, Jammu and Trivandrum.

To implement the pronouncement, 05 locations viz., Chennai, Guwahati, Kharagpur, Lucknow and Hyderabad were identified for Phase-I.

As per Medical Council of India (MCI) Rules, Public Private Partnership (PPP) Medical College with Government (Railway) Hospital is not permitted. This Ministry have, therefore, dropped the proposal of setting up of Medical Colleges.

(b) & (c) Do not arise.

(d) M/s Rail India Technical & Economic Services(RITES) was appointed and was awarded the work (worth Rs. 187 lakhs + Service tax) of consultancy and preparing bid documents for selection of a private partner for Phase-I. M/s RITES have submitted preliminary reports of feasibility studies of Chennai, Secunderabad and Kharagpur. Till date, Rs. 29.41 lakhs have been paid to M/s RITES.

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Green Power: Railways to set up 26 MW windmill

NEW DELHI: Railways, one of the biggest consumers of energy, is moving towards harnessing green power with a 26 MW windmill proposed to be built in Rajasthan.

The project, the biggest renewable energy initiative by the national transporter, is to be set up in Jaisalmer at a cost of Rs 150 crore and targeted to be completed in about nine months.
“We.. have to explore new and renewable sources of energ for our energy basket,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said here today while announcing the project.

He was speaking while launching the windmill farm meant for generating electricity for the captive consumption of railways. It is being set-up by Railway Renewable Energy Management Company Limited (REMCL), a joint venture of Railways and it’s subsidiary RITES. The contract for this project was awarded by REMCL to INOX Wind Limited.

Prabhu said there is a need to change the energy mix so that long term dependence on fossil fuel can be reduced.

Earlier, railways had established its first windmill plant of 10.5 MW capacity at a cost of about Rs 65 crore in Tamil Nadu in 2009. It has generated over 120 million units of electricity since its commission.

“We should harness solar energy also in a big way and design our stations and buildings in such a way that their local electricity needs can be met through solar system.
“In fact, all such new structures should have inherent provision for harnessing solar energy for their day-to-day needs,” the Railway Minister said, while noting that deserts of Rajasthan and Gujarat can be a good source of exploiting the solar energy.

He also pushed for a sustained effort to intensify energy conservation measures.

The electricity generated from such windmill plants will be purchased by Railways at CERC determined rates. The current tariff from windmill has been estimated to be Rs 6 per unit as against the average tariff of Rs 6.57 per unit.

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Shri.E.Sreedharan panel to vet all railway contracts

All tenders to be approved by the railway minister or railway board would be examined by the E Sreedharan panel, which was set up to suggest ways to infuse transparency in the functioning of the transport behemoth.

The panel has asked railways to submit the details of all tenders under finalization or at the invitation stage, which are to be cleared by the minister or board.

The move is aimed at studying the existing tendering process so that the one-man committee can suggest ways to streamline procurement and tendering process as part of the government’s push for reforming the transporter.

The move has created panic among a section of officials as they fear probe if the panel found any aberration or abuse of official position to favour a particular company or individual.

A senior official in the railways board secretariat said, “Most of the departments have submitted the details.”

In recent past, investigative agencies found cases of “tailor-made” specifications in the tendering process to favour a private company, he said. Irregularities in booking of wagons and coaches due to opaque procedures have also come to light.

Soon after taking over, railway minister Suresh Prabhu asked former Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief E Sreedharan to advise on ways to infuse transparency in systems and procedures.

He was asked to suggest “proper system and procedure to ensure proper accountability and transparency” at the level of General Manager (GM) and other functionaries for taking all commercial decisions.

The panel was appointed amid indication of massive reforms being worked out in the railways to attract private and foreign investment for the mega projects and infuse transparency and openness after Prabhu took over. There was a realization that widespread corruption and manipulation had discouraged private players to invest in rail infrastructure.

Prabhu had indicated that decisions on tender have to be taken at the level of GMs of railway zones. Helping railways put in place systems for delegation of such responsibilities to GMs is one of the terms of reference of the newly-formed committee.

Source:TOI

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