Railways off the track
New Delhi, May 16, 2013: CP Joshi’s stop-gap return to the Rail Bhawan following Pawan Kumar
Bansal’s controversial exit has unravelled the key infrastructure ministry’s woes. The first and foremost challenge for a new minister
would be to impart a sense of direction and purpose to a ministry that
has become a bait in the coalition era. The pursuit of unabashed populism has come at the cost of railway’s modernisation plans and
neglect of passenger safety.
For starters, the ministry has suffered severely due to change of guard
in the last four years. The rail ministry has already seen four full
time ministers in the last four years along with CP Joshi’s two stints
as a stop-gap arrangement including the latest. With an impending Cabinet reshuffle, the rail ministry may well end up seeing seven
ministers in five years surpassing the record of 1967 Indira Gandhi regime that saw the key infrastructure portfolio changing hands six times.
The latest change of guard has affected when Indian Railways was gearing
to transform itself into a dynamic mode of public transport. Post-1995,
the ministry of railways has more or less become a bargaining chip for
coalition governments. Whether it was the National Democratic Alliance
or the UPA, Railways became bait to please allies. Run like personal
fiefdoms, the regional partners, in turn, have used the Railways to pursue their short-term electoral agenda. Each time a regional satrap
becomes a railway minister, a new crop of trains are launched, and the
region to which the minister belongs, becomes a favoured destination. Source: Zee News
The railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has resigned
from his post
NEW DELHI, May 12,
2013: Beleaguered railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has resigned
from his post on Friday. Having seen four changes in 14 months, the
coveted post of Railways Minister became the most volatile
ministerial berth in UPA-II as Pawan Kumar Bansal put in his papers amid pressure on Friday.
All the four ministers had to let go of the job under
controversial circumstances. It started in March 2012 with Trinamool
Congress's Dinesh Trivedi quitting days after his Rail Budget in
which he had spelled out some much-needed moves for reform, notably,
a steep increase in passenger fares, which earned the ire of his
predecessor and party chief Mamata Banerjee. Mamata's party MP Mukul
Roy, took over soon after and rolled back all the reformist moves
proposed by Trivedi's budget. But Roy's luck also ran out within
months. In September 2012, Roy's run ended as Trinamool walked out of UPA.
The railway minister's nephew Vijay Singla has been arrested
for allegedly trying to fix the promotion for a member in the
railway board . Bansal's woes mounted when the CBI questioned his
private secretary Rahul Bhandari, a 1997-batch IAS officer from
Punjab cadre, in connection with the alleged Rs 10 crore bribery
scandal. Bansal has denied any wrongdoing by him claiming that he
has no business links with Singla.
Shri C.P. Joshi was
appointed as New Railway minister 0n Saturday.
Indian Railways Reduced the Advanced Booking Period of the Tickets to 60 Days
New Dlhi, May 03,013:The Indian Railways reduced the advanced booking period of the tickets
from four months duration to two months, with effect from 1 May 2013.
This has been done to prevent the enormous amount of cancellations after the booking process.
The Railway notification issued on 25 April 2013 declared that the
advance reservation period (ARP) in order to book the reserved train tickets was being reduced from 120 days to 60 days from 1 May 2013. It
was also declared that the bookings which were done up to 30 April 2013 under already-existing ARP of 120 days will not be changed.
Railway officials believed that this action would help the genuine travellers and reduced touts that booked bulk tickets in advance. No
change was introduced to ARP limit of 360 days for foreign tourists. Cancellation of booking which was made beyond the time duration of 60
days shall be permitted. At present, tatkal tickets are being issued
when a person produces self-attested photocopy of a valid identity proof.
In order to monitor the tout, Railways conduct raids on the railway stations as well.
Indian Railways to Offer Passengers Wake-Up Calls, Train Status Details
Newe Delhi, April 25, 2013: The railway network in collaboration with RailYatri.in is
planning to provide wake-up calls for passengers and services like alert
messages to a passenger's phone about delay in trains. "We're looking at providing services like wake-up calls and informing
passengers if there are any changes in the schedule of the train they
are booked in like delays or cancellations through SMS or phone calls,"
said Manish Rathi, CEO and co-founder of Rail Yatri. "It can even be to alert someone on the position of a train so they can
receive their family at the station on time."
Besides this, the company is also prepping an app that allows passengers
to make use of current services. The app is expected to launch in the
coming months. "We are fine-tuning some features. We want to ensure it will work on all
platforms including iPhones, Windows system and Blackberry," Rathi added.
Earlier in 2012, Railway Information System (CRIS) in a tie-up with Rail
Yatri has launched an online application, RailRadar, which tracks details of 6,500 trains running across the country on a real-time basis.
The service enables the user to track train timings, locations, stoppages and routes. The service does not require the user to remember
the train number or name, as just the entry of two station names gives
details. Source: Times of India
Google doodle marks India's first passenger train journey's 160th anniversary
April 16, 2013: India's first passenger train journey is the subject of Tuesday's Google
doodle. The day marks 160 years since the a passenger train set out on
its maiden journey in India. The history of rail transport in India goes all the way back to 1832,
when a plan for a rail system in India was first put forward. The first
rail line in the Indian sub-continent came up near Chintadripet Bridge
(in modern-day Chennai) in 1836 as an "experimental line". In 1837, a
5.6 km long rail line was established between Red Hills and the stone
quarries near St. Thomas Mount.
However, it wasn't until 1853-54, when two new railway companies, Great
Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR) and East Indian Railway (EIR), were
created, that the railways as we known it today began to take shape.
GIPR was asked to setup near Mumbai, and EIR was to setup a railway line
near Kolkata (Calcutta at the time). Thus, the first train in India became operational on 22 December 1851 for localised hauling of canal
construction material in Roorkee. 16 April 1853 was the historic date when India's first passenger train
journey took place between Bori Bunder in Mumbai and Thane. Covering a
distance of 34 kilometres, it was hauled by three locomotives, Sahib,
Sindh, and Sultan. The Google doodle celebrates the 160th anniversary of this journey -
rather inaccurately some might say - by depicting a single steam engine
lugging a train towards the reader. The front part of the engine form
the first 'O' in Google. Source: NDTV
One killed, 33 injured in rail derailment near Arakkonam
Chennai, April 10 2013 (PTI): One person was killed and 33 others injured when 11 bogies of
Bangalore-bound Muzaffarpur- Yesvantpur Express derailed at Sitheri,
about 90 km from here, early this morning. Vellore Superintendent of Police I Eswaran said one passenger was killed
and 33 injured in the mishap. The injured have been admitted to the Government hospital at
The derailment occurred around 5.50 am, a Railway official said.
Top officials of the Southern Railway visited the spot and commenced an
initial probe into the cause of the derailment.Rail traffic on the Arakkonam sector was disrupted. Railways cancelled
about seven trains, including those bound for Bangalore, and diverted
Railway officials have pressed several buses into service to ferry
stranded passengers, while at least 200 travellers continued their onward journey to Bangalore by Guwahati Express.
The state-owned railway service operates 9,000 passenger trains and
carries some 18 million passengers every day. Last year, railway officials said train accidents in India had killed
1,220 people over the past five years.
Indian Railways to open all services for service tax registration
Mumbai, April 5, 2013: The Indian Railways has now relented and has agreed to open services other than
ticketing, that are offered by its various arms, to service tax. The Central Railway and Western Railway are among the first to register
for taxation, various service rendered under their arms.
According to officials, railways offer various service apart from
tickets, which are currently out of the tax net. These include restaurants on the platform or on railway premises, book shops, brokers
and jobbers (For railway scrap auctions, renting out land, etc), services operating from space let out by the railways, among others. The
additional cost will be passed on and consumers may have to pay more for
the food items bought in the railway platform or even shoes polished by
a shoesmith using space rented from the railways. Tickets and railway
freight are already under the service tax net. Railways have been opposing the move to include non-ticketing and
non-freight services till date. However, the railways relented after the finance ministry agreed to
amend Section 99 of Indian Railways Act to provide exemption to Indian
Railways with respect to taxable services prior to July 1, 2012.
In fact, budget 2013-14 specified that exemption will be granted to the
extent show cause notices have been issued up to February 20, 2012. Incidentally, as a friendly gesture, the finance ministry may delete the
clause of show cause notice and its cut off date for extending exemption
for 2012 cases in the final finance bill yet. This is being considered
to facilitate all such cases where show cause notices have not been sent
and investigation are underway to send notices in future. Thus exemption
will be allowed even in cases where show cause notice has not been sent
but investigations are underway. Source: Business Standard
Train tickets, freight tariff to be costlier from April 1
NEW DELHI, April 1,
2013 (PTI): Travelling in trains is set to become costlier from
today as the hike in reservation fee and superfast charges announced
in the Rail Budget come into effect from April 1. Besides hike in
passenger fares, freight rate for all commodities will also go up by about 5.7 per cent on Monday.
The Railways expect to earn Rs 42,210 crore from
passengers traffic and Rs 93,554 crore from goods transportation in
2013-14. Though the Railways have not increased basic passenger
fare, it had proposed increase of the reservation fee, superfast and
Tatkal charges. Cancellation and clerkage charges will also be hiked
from April. While the cash-strapped Railways were expected to mop up
about Rs 880 crore annually from the latest hike in service charges
on train tickets, the freight rate revision will fetch Rs 4200
crores for the national transporter in the fiscal 2013-14.
As per a Railway notification, while reservation fee
for second and sleeper class has not been revised, AC classes will
be dearer by Rs 15 to Rs 25 per ticket. Superfast charges have been
increased by Rs 10 for sleeper and second class fare. For AC
classes, the hike is between Rs 15 and Rs 25. There are more than
two crore passengers travelling daily on about 11,000 trains in the
country. Tatkal fee has been increased by 10 per cent of the basic
fare for second class and 30 per cent for all other AC classes.
While cancellation charges have been increased by Rs 10 to Rs 50 per
ticket for confirmed tickets, clerkage charge for cancellation of
waiting list and RAC tickets will be hiked by Rs 5 for sleeper class and Rs 10 for AC class.
Cancellation and clerkage charges have been hiked to deter
touts from booking bulk tickets in advance, a senior Railway
Ministry official said. Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had
effected the hike in the basic passenger fare by 21 per cent before
the Rail Budget in January 22, this year. The hike in passenger fare
was announced after 10 years as successive Railway Ministers during
that period were not in favour of increasing fares. The cost of fuel
and energy went up many times during that period and it was essential to hike the fares, said the official.
An inspiring expo on Indian Railways
GUNTUR, March 18, 2013: A model of a mini electromagnetic railway engine greets the visitors as
they step into the Railway Hall in Arundelpet where an exhibition tracing the evolution of Indian Railways from the days of British Raj to
the modern times was inaugurated on Friday. Fascinating pictures of locos chugging away in some of the most picturesque settings of the
country are on display. The electromagnetic train is the future train
running on the principle of linear induction, says engineer Naga Raju.
A model of first steam locomotive, Fairy Queen is also displayed. The
visitors are then offered a peak into the evolution of Indian Railways
through a photo exhibition. Several interesting pictures are on the display. The iconic Churchgate railway station in Mumbai was captured in
a lithe black and white photo in 1956 and so are the pictures of the
first air conditioned coach. A picture of big blocks of ice being taken
inside a compartment is amusing. Can anyone imagine that there were times when bulls were used to pull railway engine? It would be
interesting to note that the first diesel loco chugged off in 1807. In
1931, the first electrical locomotive was run and it was interesting to
note that the first electrical locomotive between Vijayawada and Chennai was run in 1981.
In addition to the pictures, a philatelic exhibition by superintendent
of the Electrical Department and also secretary of Guntur District Philatelist and Numismatics society M.V.S. Prasad too was appealing. A
rare collection of coins, currency and stamps associated with Railways
all over the world are put on display by Mr. Prasad, which included a
special commemorative stamp marking the 150 years of Indian Railways. A
Rs.100 special stamp on Mahatma Gandhi showing him spinning Khadi is
also on display along with many other interesting stamps. Divisional
Railway Manager, Guntur, N.K Prasad inaugurated the exhibition. Reena
Prasad, president of Guntur branch of South Central Railway Women’s
Welfare Organisation, was present. source: The Hindu
Indian Railways sold 500,000 e-tickets in a single day
New Delhi, March 7, 2013: The Indian Railways sold a record 500,000 passenger tickets online in a
single day, and it expects this number to climb higher on the back of
new technology upgrades. On March 1, Web site sales surpassed the previous high of
496,000 e-tickets sold on July 7, 2012, according to a report Monday in
The Hindu Business Line, which quoted an official from the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
The Indian Railways transported over 8 billion people--or more than 20
million passengers daily--and sold over US$5.5 billion of tickets to passengers its financial year 2012, according to the
latest budget documents. Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal wants a greater share of sales
to be transacted via the Web site, which had been criticized for its
inability to handle large volumes. In a speech to parliament on February 26, when he revealed the Union
Budget, Bansal outlined a number of technology initiatives to make it easier to ride trains.
These include an online ticketing facility which operations will be extended to 23 hours a day, enabling e-tickets to be purchased via
mobile phones, introducing an SMS alert service to notify commuters about the status and success of ticket reservations, and equipping more
trains with the real-time information system (RTIS) to access information online.
Further, a new next-generation ticketing system would be in place by the
end of 2013, which will be able to sell 7,200 tickets per minute--over
three times more than the peak load today--and support 120,000 simultaneous users, or three times the present capacity, Bansal said.
IRCTC passes service tax on to passengers
Indore, March 04, 2013:
From April the Indian Railways' online ticket booking portal IRCTC
will start levying service tax on service charge for e-tickets
booked through it. A letter to this effect was issued on February 27
by the railway ministry. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism
Corporation (IRCTC) had on January 31 sought permission to levy
service tax, as applicable, on customers in addition to the existing
service charge levied on booking of e-tickets. The ministry's letter
says the "matter has been examined and the said proposal of
IRCTC to transfer the liability incurred on account of imposition of
service tax on the service charges levied by IRCTC to the customers
has been agreed to". IRCTC sources said service tax would be
levied from April 1. The IRCTC levies a service charge of Rs. 10 per
e-ticket in case of sleeper class (SL) and second sitting and Rs. 20
per e-ticket in case of all other classes (1AC, 2AC, 3AC, CC, FC)
irrespective of the number of passengers on an e-ticket.
"It's going to be a very nominal hike - Rs. 1 for SL and
Rs. 2 for AC classes," said Pradeep Kundu, PRO, IRCTC.
"Till now, the IRCTC was bearing the cost of service tax but
now it was decided to charge the same from passengers," he
added. The IRCTC records a sale of around 4.5 lakh ticket a day,
making it one of the largest e-commerce sites in the world. Nearly
12 lakh tickets are booked with Indian Railways every day. "The
move is expected to give the IRCTC additional revenue of
approximately Rs. six lakh per day," said Kundu. Source:Hindustan Times
Railway budget 2013-14: 67 express trains, 26 passenger trains introduced
New Delhi, February 26, 2013:Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presents his maiden budget in
Parliament. In the Railway budget 2013-14. As many as 67 express trains and 26 passenger trains are being
introduced this year. Besides, he proposed extension of as many as 57 trains and increasing
the frequency of 24 trains.
The Highlights of Railway budget are: Marginal increase in cance llation, reservation charges,
67 new express trains to be introduced; 27 passenger trains, 8 DEMUs.
Allocation of Rs 1,000 crore each made for railway land development authority and railway station development authority.
Railways set to enter 1 billion ton freight club of China, Russia and US
Internet booking to be provided from 0030 hours to 2330 hours
Internet booking to be strengthened with next-generation e-ticketing
system to eliminate delays. Railways will use Aadhar data base for bookings and validation of
passengers. Free wi-fi facility to be provided in select trains. Plan to allow e-ticketing via mobile phones.
Aim to eliminate 31,846 level crossings. Identification of 104 stations for
upgradation in places with more than one million population and of religious significance.
Railways to set up six more Rail Neer bottling plants. Rs. 95,000 crore shortfall , meeting this shortfall will mean a paradigm
shift. Rs one lakh crore to be raised from public—private partnership, Rs 1.05
lakh crore through internal resources in the 12th Plan, says Railway Minister P K Bansal.
Indian Railways to equip trains with latest fire-fighting equipment
New Delhi, February 04 2013: In an effort to check the number of fire accidents on trains, Railways
will soon equip pantry and power cars with latest fire suppression system including sprinklers.
"Even though Railways uses fire retardant materials for furnishings in coaches, fire accidents on trains continue to be reported. Therefore, we
have decided to further upgrade our preparedness for fire prevention and
suppression," a senior Railway Ministry official said. As per the plan, the Rail Budget 2013-14 will have proposals for
installing sprinklers in pantry and power cars in as many express and mail trains.
While initial trials for fire and smoke detection system on LHB AC coaches have been completed, Railways has planned to provide such system
on more rakes for extended field trials. "We are planning to provide latest
technology fire suppression system on certain coaches including pantry cars and power cars which are more fire
prone," said the official. Expressing concern over frequent incidents of fire mishap on trains, the
Standing Committee on Railways has asked the state-owned enterprise to
find methods with the help of technology and experts to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
The parliamentary panel has also asked the national transporter to install automatic fire alarm system in all trains immediately.
A sleeper coach of Tamil Nadu Express had caught fire on July 30 last
year claiming 32 lives. In October 2012, a woman and child were killed
when a coach of Falaknama passenger train caught fire. Recommending help of latest technology, the committee has asked the
Railways to explore the possibility of adopting best practices in fire
fighting exercise available in other countries. Source: indianexpress.com
As fuel prices rises, diesel railway engines to turn LNG
Delhi, January 31, 2013: Faced with high fuel costs in running its
fleet of diesel trains, the railways ministry — headed by Pawan Kumar Bansal — has initiated grand plans to retrofit diesel
locomotives and make them run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), cutting fuel costs by as much as 40%. Losses of the Indian Railways
from passenger services are estimated at Rs. 25,000 crore.
Projected revenues of Rs.6,600 crore from this month's
decision, hiking the prices of passenger tickets, have substantially been offset by the subsequent government's decision to hike diesel
prices — which will drill a hole as big as Rs.4,000 crore in the
railways' pockets. In his upcoming budget speech next month, Bansal
is likely to elaborate on plans for inducting state-of-the-art
technology to make Indian locomotives run on LNG. Canadian green
engine maker Westport Innovations Inc has been roped in
by the Railways for technological support. "The Rail Design and
Standards Organisation will soon conduct trials on 100 diesel
locomotives. The trials will be completed within one year," a source said.
The annual fuel bill of the Indian Railways adds up to Rs.14,000 crore for running approximately 4,000 diesel engines for
mainline operations. Plans are being worked out envisage conversion
of around 2,000 diesel engines over a five year period. One diesel
engine annually burns 6 lakh litres of diesel at a cost of Rs.4
crore. In its lifetime of 36 years, the fuel bill of one locomotive
works out to R144 crore — out of which R50 crore can be saved
through an LNG retrofitted engine. Source: HindustanTimes
Buddhist train to arrive in Odisha on Januaray 22
BHUBANESWAR, January 21, 2013: After missing the
December date, the Mahapari Nirvan Express, aka Buddhist train, will
finally reach Odisha on Tuesday. The train will carry 89 tourists,
including some foreigners. The inter-state special train, which covers most parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, connecting
several Buddhist sites, including Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Sarnath,
Gorakhpur, Khushinagar, Gonda, Sravasti and Agra, would arrive at Haridaspur near Jajpur on Tuesday. The tourists would be taken on
sightseeing to several Buddhist sites, including Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri near Jajpur in SUVs arranged by the
tourism department. Later, the visitors would take the road route to
Dhauli peace pagoda in Bhubaneswar. "After the sightseeing, the
tourists would start the return journey the same evening," tourism director H S Upadhyay said.
The seven night-eight day package will culminate in Delhi on
January 28. The last destination of the train will be Agra. Insufficient passengers booking had forced the tourism department
and India Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of Indian Railways, to postpone the journey till January
20. The train left Delhi station on Sunday, where the tourists were
greeted in a traditional style. "We put tilak on their foreheads and welcomed them with garlands. A culture troupe was sent
from Odisha to see off the passengers in a musical way," Upadhyay said. Source: The Times of India
Train fares to be hiked from January 21: Railway minister
NEW DELHI, January 9, 2013: The railway minister on Wednesday announced a hike in train
fares ranging from 2 to 10 paise per kilometre, which will come into effect from
midnight January 21. The sleeper class hike is 6 paise per kilometre. The hike in AC chair car is 10 paise per kilometre, AC III tier 10 paise
per kilometre and first class is 3 paise per kilometre while AC 2 tier is 6 paise per kilometre.
The price of train tickets had not been increased for a decade, railway
minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said. The minister said the fares, which he described as modest and reasonable,
will not be increased when the Railways Budget is presented. Last year, then railway minister Dinesh Trivedi had announced
an increase in some train fares, a move which angered his party leader Mamata Banerjee. She had him dismissed, and the fare hike was not implemented.
With the hike ,railways has finally bitten the bullet to come out of the
fund crunch that has affected its operations and threatens to cripple its modernization and expansion plans.
Earlier, Pawan Kumar Bansal asserted that people are ready to pay more
in exchange for better and modernized services. "People are ready to pay. After all we have to modernize the railways,"
Bansal told TOI, emphasizing that it was time the transporter got realistic about its expenditure. He said that the cross-subsidization -
a scheme where railways charge higher freight rates in order to keep the
passenger fares low - has become unviable and railways can persist with
it only at the cost of pricing them out of the goods transportation business. The minister said that besides other things,
cross-subsidization, which has seen the railways steadily losing market
share to road transporters, will result in clogged roads, higher transport cost for goods and higher pollution.
"People also must understand this. We seek there cooperation since there is no increase in passenger fare for last 12 years. Though any increase
in fare will pinch, it is obviously, but then we have to be realist in our approach. That is what I appeal to the people," said Bansal in a
significant policy pitch weeks before he presents the last full rail budget under UPA-II. Source: The Times of India