Saturday, 31 December 2011

Website aimed at outstation Sabarimala pilgrims successful

The Southern Railways' timely initiative to launch a website exclusively for the outstation Sabarimala pilgrims has turned out to be a huge success, according to the Railway officials. As the Mandalakalam (the pilgrimage season) drew to a close on Wednesday, the website, www.railyatri.in/sabarimala, launched by the Southern Railway four weeks ago, has proved to be an instant hit among thousands of pilgrims to the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
The site has been giving the status of trains in the limits of Chengannur, Thiruvalla and Kottayam, the main landing and boarding points of travellers arriving on train for one of the largest annual pilgrimage in the country.
The site statistics show that the majority of the visitors were from the South Indian states, and notably, pilgrims from Tamil Nadu have made the maximum use of the services provided by the website.
In the past one week, the site drew 21,000 from Tamil Nadu, followed by 8,750 from Karnataka and 2,000 from Andhra Pradesh. 
However, Southern Railway Thiruvananthapuram Divisional Railway manager Rajesh Agrwal says the website was launched not considering the dam issue. "The idea struck me during the review on arrangements for the pilgrimage season.
Every year, during the pilgrimage season, Railway officials have a tough time answering the telephone queries regarding train statuses. And helpline number 139 will always get clogged with numerous calls. So we thought of introducing a portal giving information," he said.
Agarwal said the facility has found success with large number of pilgrims logging on to the site to get real time updates. 
The visitors can also watch the train status plotted on a satellite map and maximum accuracy is ensured, says Manish Rathi, CEO of Stelling Technologies that manages the website.
The website's popularity increased among pilgrims from Tamil Nadu after the dam issue began, said a senior Railway official. "Ever since the dam issue started, the number of pilgrims arriving on trains increased for safety concerns. Pilgrim arrivals at the three stations show a huge increase when compared to the previous years," he said.
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Railways to launch online ticketing services

With the railways planning to begin its own online ticketing services next year, ticketing agents may have to run for their money. The plan is already in the trial stages, according to senior railway officials.
Now, tickets are booked at the railway reservation counters in stations or online via the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website, which provides both e-ticketing as well as I-ticketing services. In Bangalore, 20,000 tickets are booked through IRCTC website.
The third option is to book tickets through agents registered with IRCTC. The railways own ticketing service will provide yet another option to the passengers. “Once the system is ready for use, passengers will be able to avail e-ticketing services through the website,” said a senior official at South Western Railways.
“All reserved tickets can be booked from the site directly. At present, ticketing is done through the IRCTC and agents registered with the IRCTC can book tickets the same way.” The objective behind the service, according to officials, is to shift the revenue that goes to the IRCTC to the Railways itself.
Although the railways may have an added advantage of increased revenue through commission, the website may not be beneficial to passengers, considering that at present there is no plan to offer tickets at reduced rates or to reduce the commission.
Moreover, the response to the railways own website remains to be seen, considering that IRCTC not only provides ticket booking facility but offers hotel booking and other facilities. “Those who require other facilities can go through the IRCTC and others can use the railways website to book tickets if that’s all they need,” said the official.
“The project is still in the initial stages,” said the official. “There are a number of things that need to be decided, such as the tariff issues and so on. The aim of the website is to make it more convenient to the people and we are hoping this will do that.” Although there is no fixed date as to when the services will begin to be operational, according to the official, it will not happen in the next two to three months at least. Not many seem enthusiastic about the website. “I don’t see the need for it,” said another railway official. “IRCTC works fine and the railway does not really require the marginal income that comes from commissions through ticketing.”
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‘Mannargudi- Tiruchy train from New Year’

The Railway Ministry has announced a daily passenger train service from Mannargudi to Tiruchy from New Year, DMK Parliamentary leader TR Baalu said here on Thursday. According to a statement, Baalu said that the Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi spoke to him over telephone to inform that his demand for the passenger train between these two points was accepted by the Ministry.
The train will leave Mannargudi at 6 am and will reach Tiruchy at 9.40 am with a halt at Tanjavur at 7.45 am and in return the same train will leave Tiruchy at 5.15 pm and will reach Mannargudi at 9 pm with a halt at Tanjavur at 6.45 pm.
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Survey on new BG line between Mysore, Madikeri

 A preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey for a new broad gauge line between Mysore-Kushalnagar-Madikeri will begin on December 31. Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa will unveil a plaque to announce the commencement of the survey at Government Model Primary School in Kushalnagar at 12.15 noon. 
The survey on the 110 kilometres railway line was announced by the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in the 2011 railway budget. The new railway line connecting the city of Mysore to the hill town of Madikeri will pass through Hunsur, Periyapatna and Kushalnagar with a major portion of the railway line falling in Mysore district.
While it will be a plain surface for about 70 kilometres between Mysore and Kushalnagar, the remaining 40 kilometres between Kushlnagar and Madikeri will be in the midst of hilly forests with sharp curves.
Sources said that there is a difference of 180 metres in altitude in the stretch between Kushalnagar and Madikeri and tunnels will need to be dug up for the train to pass.
Meanwhile, this is not the first survey being carried out to provide rail connectivity to Madikeri. A similar survey which was carried out more than a decade ago had stated that huge investment was required to create the new facility in the hilly forest and the route would incur losses to the railways.
Sources in South Western Railway said that the fresh survey is only preliminary work and the project is yet to get a nod from the Forest Department. A feasibility survey will follow the preliminary survey.
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Train services in Tiruchi division hit

A couple of Chennai-bound long-distance trains had to be partially cancelled while some other trains suffered detention midway in the Villupuram–Tiruchi chord line section following the cyclonic storm. Some trains were cancelled owing to heavy downpour coupled with strong winds.
Tiruchi–Chennai Egmore Pallavan Express that left Tiruchi at the scheduled time on Friday morning could not be operated beyond Ariyalur where it was terminated. The train was chugged back to the Tiruchi Railway Junction where arrangements were made to refund the amount to the passengers.
Similar was the case with Madurai–Chennai Egmore Vaigai Express which was detained at Tiruchi junction. The train was later moved back to Madurai with the railway authorities returning the fare to the passengers.
Consequently, Madurai-bound Vaigai Express and Tiruchi-bound Pallavan Express were cancelled from Chennai. Chennai Egmore–bound Cholan Express from Tiruchi that is operated via mainline was cancelled.
Chennai–bound Ananthapurai Express from Thiruvananthapuram suffered detention at Vriddhachalam for over five hours, while Rameswaram–Chennai Sethu Express was halted at Tiruvennainallur near Ulundurpet for more than seven hours.
Railway sources here said Tiruchendur–Chennai and Mannargudi–Chennai Express suffered detention at Vriddhachalam and Villupuram respectively for several hours.
The Tiruchi railway divisional authorities have sent two teams to inspect the Villupuram–Mayiladuthurai mainline section in order to ascertain the ground level situation.
While one team will inspect the stretch from Mayiladuthurai to Pudhuchathram, the other will carry out inspection from Puduchathiram to Villupuram.
The teams will inspect the condition of the track in the mainline section, where several trees have uprooted, and fallen on the railway line, the obstructions midway, level-crossing gates, and the safety aspect, the Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi P.V. Vaidialingam told The Hindu here. Restoration works were underway and the railways was doing its best to resume train services in the mainline section, he added.
Trains cancelled
The Southern Railway cancelled Chennai Egmore–Karaikal–Chennai Egmore Express (16175 /76), Chennai Egmore–Mannargudi–Chennai Express (16179 / 16180), and Chennai Egmore–Puducherry Express (16115). The following trains were diverted via chord line (Vriddhachalam) on Friday: Rameswaram–Chennai Egmore (16702), Chennai Egmore–Rameswaram (16701), Chennai Egmore–Tiruchendur (16735), Tirupathy-Madurai (16779), and Chennai Egmore–Madurai Express (12793).
Rescheduled
Chennai Egmore–Kanyakumari (12633), Chennai Egmore–Tuticorin (12693), and Chennai–Tiruchendur (16735) were rescheduled due to cyclonic weather condition,
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Survey work for new rail line to begin today

The preliminary survey work for a new broad gauge line between Mysore-Kushalnagar-Madikere (110 km) will commence from Kushalnagar on Saturday.
Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa will unveil the plaque to inaugurate the survey works at 12.15 p.m.
Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly K.G. Bopaiah, Mysore MP, A.H. Vishwanath, Minister for Medical Education S.A. Ramdas, M.C. Nananiah, MLC, and other elected representatives from Mysore and Kodagu will be present.
Mr. Muniyappa will also inaugurate the India Post Passenger Reservation Centre at Kushalnagar town post office the same day.
The new Railway line survey works between Mysore-Kushalnagar-Madikeri was sanctioned almost two years ago and was proposed in the Railway Budget 2010-11.
The project is a long-pending demand of the people of Kodagu and surrounding regions as the district is not on the Railway map of the country and rail connectivity can shore up its fortunes.
But the gestation period for a railway project — from commencement of the survey work to the actual completion of the project and introduction of train services — takes decades if one goes by railway history and experience.
Sources in the Railways pointed out that a survey is generally the first step in the long chain of mandatory procedures that are followed. The survey is expected to take about 24 months at a conservative estimate if not more.
A commercial viability assessment and study will follow, after which a final location survey is taken up to ascertain the curves and alignment of the proposed track.
Any project above Rs. 150 crore will have to be approved by the Planning Commission, after which other issues related to land acquisition, environmental clearance etc. will come into picture.
It is pertinent to note that the Mysore-Madikere Railway line was mooted in 1881-82 as per the information in the Mysore Gazetteer published by the State Government.
An alternative route connecting Mysore and Madikere via K.R. Nagar-Bettadapura-Kushanlagar was also proposed in the 1950s, none of which materialised.
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8 Pairs of Trains to be Temporarily Augmented

WR TO TEMPORARILY AUGMENT 8 TRAINS TO ACCOMMODATE
MORE PASSENGERS THIS FESTIVE SEASON


To create more accommodation on its trains during this festive season Western Railway is attaching additional coaches in 8 trains on temporary basis thereby creating additional carrying capacity
The details of augmented trains are as under :


Sr.
No.
Train No. & Name
Type of coach
Date of Temporary Augmentation
W.E.F
1.
12489/90 Dadar-Bikaner Exp
Two Sleeper Car
Ex Dadar From 4/01/12 to 18/01/12
Ex Bikaner From 03/01/12 to 17/01/12
2.
14707/08 Bandra (T)- Bikaner Express
One Sleeper
Ex Bandra(T) From 2/01/12 to 21/01/12
Ex Bikaner From 1/01/12 to 20/01/12
3.
12979/80 Bandra (T) – Jaipur Express
One Sleeper
Ex Bandra (T) From 03/01/12 to 21/01/12
Ex Jaipur From 2/01/12 to 20/01/12
4.
12990/89 Dadar – Ajmer Express
One AC 2 tier-cum-AC 3 tier
Ex Dadar From 2/01/12 to 21/01/12
Ex Ajmer From 01/01/12 to 21/01/12
5.
12479/12480 Bandra(T)- Jodhpur
One AC two Tier
Ex Bandra (T) 2/01/12 to 17/01/12
Ex Jodhpur 01/01/12 to 16/01/12
6.
12973/74 Indore- Jaipur Express
One Sleeper
Ex Indore from 2/01/12 to 21/01/12
Ex Jaipur 01/01/12 to 20/01/12
7.
12465/66 Indore- Jodhpur Express
One AC Chair Car
Ex Indore from 2/01/12 to 21/01/12
Ex Jodhpur 01/01/12 to 20/01/12
8.
09727/28 Indore- Jaipur Express
One Sleeper
Ex Indore from 4/01/12 to 11/01/12
Ex Jaipur 03/01/12 to 10/01/12

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Railway helplines

Southern Railway has opened three more special information centres at Chennai Egmore for passengers to know about cancellations/rescheduling of train services due to the effects of the cyclone. The numbers are 044-28194533/29015202/29015203. These are in addition to the two centres set up at Chennai Central and the one at Egmore since Thursday.
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Rail projects to be speeded up

Several of the railway projects in Karnataka, including the doubling of the Bangalore-Mysore line, which have been languishing for over a decade owing to land acquisition related issues, are expected to be speeded up with the State Government assuring the Railways that the required land will be handed over in about a month.
Sources in the State Secretariat told The Hindu that with the Government here keen on fulfilling its commitment, the Railways had been asked to prepare a timeline for the completion of the projects.
Karnataka has been sharing the cost with the Ministry of Railways with respect to 12 projects, several of which are for laying new lines and the others related doubling the existing tracks.
Delay
So far, the State Government has spent over Rs. 1,000 crore, with little benefit to the people though, owing to the delay in the completion of the projects.
The project cost is being shared on 50:50 basis between the State and the Railway Ministry.
The State Government has decided to speed up the completion of the projects and is of the view that providing the required land is the only way to speed up their execution.
The Railways had sought 2,493 acres, and of this the State Government has so far handed over 2,293 acres, and the remaining land would be made over in a month. Strict instructions had been issued to deputy commissioners of the districts concerned to complete the formalities quickly.
The 12 major projects which have been delayed are the Hassan–Bangalore (new line); Kadur–Chikmagalur (new line); Bidar–Gulbarga (new line); Munirabad–Mahbubnagar (new line); Kolar–Chickballapur (gauge conversion); Ramanagaram–Mysore (doubling); Tumkur–Rayadurga (new line); Kottur–Harihar (new line); Whitefield–Kolar (new line); Davangere–Tumkur (new line); Bagalkot–Kudachi (new line), and the Shimoga–Harihar (new line) .
Towards these projects, the Railways had sought land for the Ramanagaram–Mysore and Bangalore–Hassan lines (5.51 hectares in Bangalore, 68.50 hectares in Ramanagaram district, 83.94 hectares in Mandya district, 3.59 hectares in Mysore district, and 10.65 hectares in Hassan district ); Kolar–Chickballapur (8.7 hectares in Kolar and 2.98 hectares in Chickballapur); Raichur–Gadwal (0.4 hectares in Raichur), and Gulbarga and Bidar (forest lands).
For the completion of the Bangalore–Mysore doubling work, the Government had provided most of the land and has to now provide only 29 acres in Mandya district and 6 acres in Ramanagaram district.
The State Government has constituted a high-level committee, under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath, to monitor the completion of the rail projects.
Secretary, Infrastructure Development, Rajkumar Khatri is in overall charge of coordinating with the various departments of the Government and the Railways.
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10% service tax on railway freight from tomorrow

 New Year 2012 will bring bad news for certain sections of the industry as the government has decided to impose a 10% service tax on movement of freight through railways from January 1. The tax will impact prices of coal, steel, iron ore and cement if companies that mine or manufacture these commodities decide to pass on the burden to consumers. When inflation is on a decline, this could be bad news for policymakers. The headline inflation, or wholesale price-based inflation, had declined to 9.11% in November compared to 9.73% in the previous month.However, commodities that have direct bearing on the common man, like milk, foodgrain, kerosene oil, cooking gas and motor vehicles have been exempt from the levy.As per railway ministry's circular, finance ministry has given abatement of 70% of gross freight charged by railways. So effectively, the tax rate would be levied at 3%. Imposition of service tax will also attract education cess of 2% and higher education cess of 1% on the amount of service tax, raising the total rate to 3.09%.The government will benefit as its tax kitty will swell with inclusion of around R1,000 crore in the form of service tax on freight.However, “the move could hit railways revenues a bit initially as there is likelihood of a minor reduction in movement of these items by the national transporter,” a senior railway ministry official said. The four items contributed 70% to railways earnings during April-November 2011.The decision has come after two-year long discussions between ministries of finance and railway as the two could not agree on the effective date till now.While finance ministry wanted to charge service tax from the earliest possible to facilitate a level-playing field in goods transport sector, railway ministry was against the impost fearing it would fuel inflationary pressures in the economy.
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No rail link for these tribal districts

Rail connectivity eludes three tribal districts of Madhya Pradesh Dhar, Khargone and Barwani. The Railways that conducted a survey to introduce rail network in the districts found it economically unviable and has not considered the districts as tribal. 
On the other hand the Madhya Pradesh government has marked the three districts as tribal districts that are economically backward and need special attention. The residents of the region feel absence of rail network has adversely impacted the social and economic developments. 
Repeated demands of locals for rail connectivity have fallen on deaf ears of Railway Ministry officials. Central Railways, that conducted a reconnaissance engineering-cum-traffic survey for a new broad gauge line from Khandwa to Dhar via Khargone and Barwani in 2010 in its survey report to the Railway Board in January 2011, termed the rail line as financially not viable. The report was compiled by Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), Central Railway. 
But to many, the survey was a mere eye-wash. Dr O P Khandelwal, a social worker, said during the survey many aspects were left untouched intentionally. "They passed on the wrong information in the report," alleged Khandelwal, who is a retired professor from local Barwani College. As per the report the capital cost of the project had been estimated at Rs 2025.05 crore for 260km rail line. Thus per km cost came up to Rs 7.70 crore, which Sharma termed quite high. 
The survey report by the Central Railways also does not categorize these districts under economically or industrially backward sections. However, the Department of tribal development has kept Barwani, Dhar, Khandwa and Khargone on the list of tribal districts of the state. Also, as per the notification of commerce, industry and employment departments of MP Government, these districts come under the C-category of backward districts . 
"Economic viability is not the only parameter for approval of any railway line. There are several criteria for the approval of laying the railway lines. New railway line projects can even be approved considering the social and economic development of backward areas," said Kahndelwal adding that there is a clear conspiracy to keep these areas deprived of railway line. Furnishing wrong information in the survey was a gross injustice to the people of these tribal districts. 
Survey report acquired through RTI had also highlighted another manipulation. The reports stated that earning from goods will be nil in the first one decade. 
Experts say that they only considered the agricultural produce scenario, which cannot be justified. 
"They deliberately avoided mention of cash crops such as cotton, banana, sugar cane and other horticulture products in the report," he said adding that as per government record, these districts together produced 4.81 lakh tonnes of agricultural produce in 2006-07 and soyabean were produced to the tune of 3.92 lakh tonnes. In the absence of railway line, all these cash crops were traded in local mandis, which affected the earnings of farmers.When contacted, chief administrative officer (Construction) of central railway, M K Gupta said that survey was not prepared during his tenure, however he promised to look into the matter.
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Friday, 30 December 2011

In another first, Delhi Metro builds two underground sub-stations


A first-of-its-kind for the city, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has constructed two underground sub-stations to provide power to the high-speed Delhi Metro Airport Metro Express and its Central Secretariat-Badarpur Line. The Corporation plans to build nine such sub-stations for its upcoming Phase III project.
The two sub-stations have been set up on an area of 5,000 sq metres on Church Road near North Block and Rashtrapati Bhavan at a cost of Rs.60 crore. While the Airport Express Line is already being fed from the new sub-station, the Central Secretariat-Badarpur line will receive power from the new sub-station from next month.
“The sub-station, which is 6 m below the ground, has already started feeding the Airport Line since June and will provide power supply to the Central Secretariat-Badarpur Line from next month,” said DMRC Director (Electrical) Satish Kumar.
In case of a power shutdown, there is a switching arrangement at the two inter-connected sub-stations, said Mr. Kumar.
The sub-stations, according to Mr. Kumar, took a little over a year to be constructed. Because the stations are underground, they have been provided with special ventilation, drainage and earthing system. Imported gas insulated switchgear that saves space in comparison to air-insulated equipment have also been provided, he added.
In accordance with the provisions of local laws in Lutyens' Zone that prohibited construction of the structures above the ground, the top of the underground sub-stations is being maintained as a park.
He said the New Delhi Municipal Council has approached the DMRC to construct a similar sub-station for them.
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14 TRAINS ON WESTERN RAILWAY PERMANENTLY AUGMENTED BY ADDING EXTRA COACHES


For the convenience of passengers and to generate more carrying capacity, Western Railway has augmented 14 trains on permanent basis by adding extra coaches. Details are as under :-


Sr.
No.
Train No. & Name
Type of coach
Date of Permanent Augmentation
W.E.F
1.
12941/42 Ahmedabad-Asansol Express
One Sleeper
03/01/2012
2.
19105/06 Ahmedabad –Howrah Express
One Sleeper
01/01/2012
3.
12903/04 Mumbai Central-Amritsar Express
One Sleeper
01/01/2012 (Excluding 29/01/2012 &02/02/2012 in Dn direction and 31/12/12 &04/02/12 in Up direction)
4.
12934/33 Ahmedabad –Mumbai Central Karnavati Express
One second sitting
01/01/2012
5.
12972/71 Bhavnagar – Bandra (T) Express
One Sleeper
01/01/2012
6.
12911/12 Valsad-Howrah Express
One Sleeper
03/01/2012
7.
12943/44 Valsad-Kanpur Express
One Sleeper
04/01/2012
8.
19051/52 Valsad- Sonpur Express
One Sleeper
07/01/2012
9.
19053/54 Surat-Muzaffarpur Express
One Sleeper
06/01/2012
10.
19569 Okha-Varanasi Express
One Sleeper
05/01/2012
11.
19263/64 Porbandar-Delhi Sarai Rohilla Express
One Sleeper
03/01/2012
12.
19269/70 Porbandar-Muzaffarpur Express
One Sleeper
05/01/2012
13.
12997/98 Hapa –Tirunelveli Express
One Sleeper
06/01/2012
14.
12919/20 Indore- Jammu Tavi Express
One Sleeper
01/01/2012

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