Indian Railways Current Affairs Dec - January 2018-19

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Posted on Mar 13, 2019 08:30 IST in General Studies.

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Mumbai Suburban Rail

Rs 65,000cr for Mumbai suburban rail revamp


Up to Rs 65,000 crore has been approved for a host of rail infrastructure projects on the suburban network in Mumbai and its surrounding areas, said Railway Minister Piyush Goyal Sunday.

These projects, investment for which were proposed in this year's Union budget, include new works and upgradation of existing facilities on the busy network, which serves as the transport lifeline of the metropolis, he said.

Goyal said the Maharashtra government has been actively supporting these infrastructure projects, which seek to improve transportation and passenger amenities.

"With the blessings of our visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi and with active support of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the decision of having an investment of a whopping Rs 60,000 to Rs 65,000 crore in the last proposed budget has been approved.

"This will ensure upgradation of the suburban railway system of Mumbai and its adjacent areas," he said.

"Given the pace at which the infrastructure and public amenity works are being executed by the Railways, I believe that in the next four to four-and-a-half years, the suburban rail network of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai or Mahamumbai will see a complete metamorphosis," Goyal said.

He was speaking after commissioning of the new Nerul- Seawoods Darave-Belapur-Kharkopar suburban rail corridor in Navi Mumbai. This is the first phase of the 27km Nerul-Belapur -Uran corridor on the Harbour route of the Central Railway.

Goyal along with Fadnavis commissioned the first phase of the corridor, that comprised 12km out of the 27km rail line, at the Kharpokar railway station.

Regular services on the new corridor will start from Monday and link Ulwe node in Navi Mumbai with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Panvel on the Harbour route besides Thane on the Trans-Harbour corridor.

Addressing the gathering, Goyal said Fadnavis has set a target of Maharashtra becoming a trillion-dollar economy by 2025.

The Indian Railway will play a crucial role in achieving this target, he said.

"Be it the leaders of my own party (the BJP) or from the Shiv Sena, or public and passengers representatives, they keep following rail projects regularly with me which sometimes annoys me also.

"Nevertheless, it gives me pleasure, too, as they are doing their job for improving amenities," Goyal said.

He also inaugurated induction of eight MEMU services between Vasai Road-Diva-Panvel-Pen and other passenger amenities.

These amenities included six FOBs (foot over bridges), 41 escalators at 23 stations, 10 lifts at six stations, half a dozen toilets at as many stations, 318 new ATVMs (Automatic Ticket Vending Machines) at 77 suburban stations.

Other amenities were IP-based suburban train indicators at 10 stations, 206 additional CCTV cameras at six stations, two booking offices at Bhiwandi Road and Navde Road stations, raising of platform height to 900 mm at 273 platforms of suburban stations as well as one megawatt solar power plant at EMU Carshed in Sanpada.

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PVR, Big Bazaar at railway stations


Shop for trendy clothes, stock up on groceries and catch the latest movie while you wait for your train to arrive at the railway station.

The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) is in talks with several private retail chains and entertainment houses, including, Big Bazaar and PVR Cinemas, to open their outlets at these busy transportation hubs.

The first of these will come up at Gandhinagar in Gujarat, where the existing railway station is being remodelled.

“We are in talks with Big Bazaar and PVR Cinemas to open their outlets at Gandhinagar railway station in Gujarat. They are keen to explore the opportunity at this new world-class station and based on this experience, further opportunities in other railway stations would also be explored,” S.K. Lohia, managing director and chief executive officer, IRSDC, told Mint in an interview.

Emails sent to Future Retail and PVR Cinemas remained unanswered.

IRSDC is the nodal agency for undertaking station re-development across the country. Lohia said retail space at stations will be sold through a tendering process.

Apart from a six-screen cinema, the Gandhinagar station, which is under re-development, will have green landscaping and house a 300-room hotel built above the railway tracks, a first for India. It will have a transit hall for passengers to seat 600 people and include a prayer room. The foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2017, and the station is expected to be completed by 2019.

Stations being re-developed need to have revenue generation models to sustain their maintenance and leasing out retail space will help foot the bill, Lohia said. “The new facilities do not mean that subsidised food like Jan Aahar will be stopped on railway stations. We are going to provide various options and passengers can choose among them.”

The Gandhinagar railway station was outsourced on engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model and the government had received five bids for it.

Kunal Construction won the bid and is constructing the project.

In October, the Cabinet allowed Indian Railways to lease out its land and air space in and around stations for up to 99 years to create state-of-the-art smart stations across the country, which are 30-45 years old. These stations are being built at Habibganj in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) and in Gandhinagar (Gujarat).

Govt planning IPOs for two rail PSUs by March-end to meet divestment target

Business Standard:  December 13, 2018

New Delhi: The government is planning initial public offerings (IPOs) of equity for two railway subsidiaries, Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) and Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL), this financial year, in an effort to meet its disinvestment target of ~800 billion for 2018-19.

With the addressing of IRFC’s earlier tax issues, a senior official with the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (Dipam) told Business Standard that the plan was to also list it and RVNL on the bourses in the January-March quarter.

In February, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had waived an accumulated ~63.92 billion in deferred tax liability for IRFC. This was a major block to the listing of IRFC, whose mandate includes borrowing for Indian Railways (IR). The waiver has increased the company’s net worth and will enable it to raise debt on its books to the extent of 10 times its net worth. According to the IR, this will enable IRFC to raise an additional ~630 billion in debt.

The government is likely to divest 10 per cent each in RVNL and IRFC. Its revenue from the RVNL stake sale is likely to be around ~6.5 billion; IRFC might get more, said an official.

According to Dipam, the government has realised ~340 billion as disinvestment proceeds till December 11. With almost four months to go before the financial year ends, another ~460 billion is needed for the target of ~800 billion.Two other railway companies of the government, RITES and Ircon International, had issued IPOs earlier this year.

Another major railway listing, possibly the largest, will be in 2019-20, of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). Railways Minister Piyush Goyal had asked for this to be not done this year, on valuation issues. The waiver of service charge on e-ticketing by the government, after demonetisation, had wiped out ~5 billion in annual revenue for IRCTC. Later, the finance ministry had only reimbursed ~800 million on this.

The prospects for an IRCTC listing had improved after it was able to overcome the hit from this service charge waiver and had posted a profit before tax of ~3.41 billion for 2017-18, up 3 per cent from 2016-17. Due to the waiver, the revenue from internet ticketing was ~2.04 billion for the year, compared to ~4.7 billion in 2016-17.

“The improvement in finances was because of utilising the website for advertising, data monetisation, e-auctioning and retail management. The company also saw an increase in revenue from its catering business and sale of Rail Neer (the bottled water brand of IRCTC),” said an official. There was a 4.2 per cent increase in sales revenue from Rail Neer and a 21.8 per cent increase in revenue from catering.

Railways develops AI-powered robot to check for faults in trains


To make trains more safe by eliminating human errors, Central Railway has developed an AI-powered robot which would click pictures and record videos of the under-gears of trains and send them to engineers for repairs and maintenance.

The mechanical branch of Central Railway's Nagpur division has developed the robot named USTAAD (Undergear Surveillance Through Artificial Intelligence Assisted Droid), which examines parts of the coach in real time with a HD camera and transmits them over WiFi.

"It captures video and still photographs of the under-gear parts of the coaches in real time and transmit them over WiFi. The engineers can see these videos on big screen as well as record them. The camera of the robot can be rotated in any direction as per command given by the engineers," Central Railway spokesperson Sunil Udasi said. 

"He can also zoom on the spot in case of any doubt. It is equipped with LED flood light and able to capture the videos in low light as well as in dark mode. By use of this robot the chances of mistake and any deficiency overlooked by human eye can be eliminated thus reducing chances of human error," he added.

With the help of USTAAD, engineers can easily see and examine areas which are hard to see and hard to approach such as cramped or narrow spaces between under-gear parts, he said.

Railways is now considering using USTAAD across zones, once tested more minutely, the official said.


Railways to eliminate last unmanned level crossing ahead of 2020 target


New Delhi: The 173-year-old Indian Railways is set to eliminate its last unmanned level crossings (UMLCs) on broad gauge (BG) network at Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh.

The Indian Railways had 8,948 UMLCs on its broad gauge network in April 2014. According to officials close to the development, the railways is likely to officially mark the achievement at a public function.

Earlier, the plan was to go for targeted elimination of UMLCs by March 2020. The move gathered steam in April 2018, after 13 children were killed in Kushinagar when a train hit a school van. “We have only one UMLC left on our railway network now. Elimination of UMLCs was a top priority of this government. This was important as such level crossings used to be a big safety constraint for both rail and road users,” said an official close to the development.

Majority of such UMLCs were eliminated by closure, merger, introducing subway and manning. Interestingly, the country’s railway network still has close to 1,500 UMLCs on meter gauge and narrow gauge. About 93 per cent of the total network of over 120,000 km is under broad gauge. Due to the speed up in the elimination of UMLCs, the number of deaths at such level crossings came down from 148 in 2007-08 to a mere 26 during the last financial year.

Based on data available with the Indian Railways, the number of people who died on railway tracks because of trespassing — including those who died while passing through the railway level crossings or the culverts on small rivers, drainages — was 12,661 in 2017. This was 13,129 in 2016 and 13,093 in 2015.

Besides railway crossings, a major reason behind the rise in accidents has been due to a staff crunch in the safety category. As on January 2019, a total of 1,51348 posts are lying vacant in safety category in Group ‘C’ and erstwhile Group ‘D’ in zonal railways. To fill in these vacancies, a total of 66,682 candidates (including 57,851 for safety category posts) have been empanelled for various Group ‘C’ posts on Indian Railways through Railway Recruitment Board (RRB).

In addition to this, computer-based tests to fill 64,371 vacancies at assistant loco pilot (ALPs) and technician level were conducted in August and September 2018. Moreover, tests for 62,907 vacancies in Level-1 (erstwhile Group ‘D’) posts were conducted between September to December 2018 in multiple shifts.

Cabinet approves extension of Delhi Metro corridor from Dilshad Garden to New Bus Adda Ghaziabad

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the extension of Delhi Metro corridor from Dilshad Garden to New Bus Adda Ghaziabad.  The total distance of the extended line will be 9.41 km. The Cabinet has also approved contribution of Rs.324.87 crore as central financial assistance for extension at the total completion cost of Rs.1,781.21 crore.

The implementation of the project would provide the much needed additional public transport infrastructure to NCR. 

The project is being implemented by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (DMRC), the existing Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of the Government of India and Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD). 

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