Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

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prahaar
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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby prahaar » 18 Aug 2016 21:56

I wonder why an almost 10 years worth order for Make In India has been given for diesel locomotives? Are there routes in DFC which are not expected to have electric traction?

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby JTull » 19 Aug 2016 01:03

prahaar wrote:I wonder why an almost 10 years worth order for Make In India has been given for diesel locomotives? Are there routes in DFC which are not expected to have electric traction?


Those double stacked container trains that were recently started seem difficult with overhead electrification. Same with Roll on Roll off trains.

DFC is fully electric.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 19 Aug 2016 07:18

^^ But where will these double stacked container trains run, since the key routes are all electrified?

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 19 Aug 2016 08:13

A good write up about Talgo trials and what do they mean for Indian railways. Posted in full

The Talgo Trials

Three score and nine years ago, our forefathers brought forth upon this continent, a new system of railways, conceived in socialism, and dedicated to the proposition that all trains are created equal. Since then, all trains had indeed been equal: so equal that we decided the system should live on forever. Ever since the Swiss Car and Elevator Manufacturing Company of Switzerland designed our train coaches in 1956, they have remained mostly the same. The Integral Coach Factory in Perambur, Chennai, has been exercising its monopoly and continuing to churn out these coaches with little or no change since then, like a photocopier. The greatest improvement these “ICF” coaches have seen in these 60 years was CFLs and LEDs replacing light bulbs and the addition of mobile charging points. The LHB coaches were a big step forward in design and aesthetics, but they were in essence, only an upgraded version of the ICF coaches rather than altogether new technology if you discount their lightweight, high-speed FIAT bogies which were the only radical technology change Indian passenger railway coaches have ever seen.

In such a context, when Indian trains have been stuck in the stone age since forever, the buzz and excitement around the Talgo coaches currently on trial in India is understandable. Everyone seems to be going hyper chanting “Talgo, Talgo”, including the dumb media, who have been reinforcing the widely known fact that they know jack when it comes to railways, by calling them Bullet trains and such and by gushing at its “swanky” interiors, which are really only the standard cattle class of Europe. So, what are these modern age wonders?

Talgo is a Spanish conglomerate specializing in railway stuff: they build and maintain very high-speed trains, high-speed trains, Intercity trains, locomotives, coaches and equipment, and invent awesome train technology for railways across the world. They are known for their innovations like wheelsets and variable gauge coaches. Apart from Spain, Talgo trains are also in service in USA, Germany, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc. And now, they have set sights on India, whose railway manufacturing and service industry, currently 100% nationalized, is probably the world’s largest remaining untapped market. In 2014, Talgo proposed to bring a train of theirs for testing in India, which they claimed can be run in India without any alteration to running infrastructure (permanent way, rails, signaling etc) at speeds and comfort levels much higher than our 1960’s trains. All transport and testing would be done completely at Talgo’s cost. The Indian government shrugged and said, “go ahead!” This decision was historical because for the first time in the history of the country would railway coaches not made or intended to be made in India by the government run on Indian rails. It was also momentous because ordinary Indians could for the first time see in real and not through pictures on how “real” trains looked and felt like.

The Talgo trials were intended to demonstrate the ability of Talgo’s coaches to run on Indian tracks at much higher speeds than conventional Indian trains with no modifications to existing tracks.

Talgo’s products include the Talgo Avril, Talgo 350 and Talgo 250, bidirectional powercar-hauled trainsets for high speeds. The Avril and 350 are High-Speed “Bullet Trains” while the Talgo 250 is used for semi-high-speed Intercity services. Talgo also produces “Talgo Pendular” independent train coaches, any number of which can be hauled by a locomotive, which are also used in the Talgo 250 trainsets, and which also came to India for testing, probably some out of RENFE‘s out-of-service coaches. Indian locomotives were used for testing, mostly a WDP4 or a WAP5. They were tested both empty and fully loaded at maximum speeds of 180 kph because that is what conventional (non-Bullet-Train) tracks can support, as anything above 200 kph will require specially built tracks and signaling systems. The Talgo was not intended to be a High Speed “Bullet” train but to be used for intercity services at 150 to 180 kph. DO NOT believe the bullshit the media peddles saying Talgo trains will run at 250 kph in India. They are capable of doing that, but not here.

Phase Route Locomotive Max Speed Time Taken Verdict
Phase I Bareilly - Moradabad WDP4 115 15 min Success
Phase 2 Mathura - Palwal WDP4 180 38 min Success
Phase 3 Aug 1 Delhi - Mumbai WAP5 130 15 h 41 m Arrived 4 hours late due to track washouts.
Aug 6 Delhi - Mumbai WDP4 130 12 h 36 m Arrived 17 min late
Aug 9 Delhi - Mumbai WAP5 140 12 h 07 m

The Talgo coaches were shipped from Spain to India by sea and after arriving at Mumbai port they were transferred to Izzatnagar workshop in UP by road. There they were retrofitted to “suit Indian conditions” and tested on the Bareilly – Moradabad route as special trains. They were then run at speeds reaching up to 180 kph on the Mathura-Palwal route, on which the Gatimaan Express runs at 160 kph. The most extended tests took place in the entire Delhi – Mumbai stretch with an attempt to beat the timings of the Rajdhani Express, and which it did! The Talgo coach-WDP4 locomotive hybrid train became the fastest train on Indian tracks, ever. So, this seems to be good enough to induct Talgo trains into our network, right? Not really.

Before going into their pros and cons, let us see how the Talgo coaches were able to run on Indian railway tracks without any modification to the track or the coaches. Also, the question arises as anyway the tracks, signals and the congestion on them remain the same why we just can’t make our regular trains run as fast as Talgos instead of spending money on them? Fair question, since speeds of trains depend on the track more than the equipment being used. A track section certified for 120 can have trains running on them only at a maximum speed of 120 kph and not more. On the Delhi-Mumbai route, the “King” Rajdhani already runs at the top speed allocated for each track section, reaching 130-140 kph top speeds where the tracks allow it. So, if both our trains and the Talgos can run at the same speed, how can the Spaniard be faster overall and reduce up to four hours of travel time? Surely it does not run faster than the Rajdhani, that is, at speeds higher than what the tracks allow?

It does not. Though it might be allowed to run marginally faster than the Rajdhani, the Talgos’ top speeds will more or less equal to the Raj’s when it comes to regular services. We know that Indian trains have low average speeds and hence high travel times not just because of lack of top speed but because they are unable to maintain high top speeds over long periods of time as factors like track conditions, congestion and shortcoming of equipment keep slowing it down, just like 200 kph-capable cars on our roads are forced to run at high speeds only in bursts because of road conditions and congestion. Talgo coaches are able to overall run faster than the Rajdhani because they do have the handicaps that slow our trains down, which is their high weight and rigidness. Talgos’ light weight and low center of gravity enable them to accelerate and decelerate much faster and take turns without slowing down, both which our trains cannot. And all this is made possible by Talgo’s unique wheel model.

The “Independent” Talgo Wheel
The most radical feature of Talgo trains is their wheels which are unlike any other train anywhere in the world. To know more how the Talgo wheels let us first look at the other major types of wheel assemblies used in trains worldwide. The wheelset assembly is called a bogie. The railway vehicle in which you travel in is NOT a bogie, that is a coach or compartment or carriage or car.

Fixed Bogies: The model most railways and trains follow for their coaches is to have two ‘wheelsets’ of four wheels connected by two axles each, present towards either end of the coach. This is simple to build and maintain, easy to run and very stable. All Indian trains use this type. In our trains, the bogie is independent of the coach shell and not integral, Everything about the wheels of the coach ends with the bogie; all suspension, dampening etc has to take place within the bogie.

Shared Bogies: Also called Jakob’s bogies, these are majorly used in European trains. Just like our bogies, these have four wheels connected by two axles. But instead of fixed entirely under one coach, these bogies are shared between two coaches with each coach end sitting on one-half of a bogie, getting one axle and two wheels and two axles and four wheels in total. So, such trains have only one bogie per coach with four wheels in essence. Suspension systems for these bogies extend into the coaches, which enable smoother and more comfortable rides, while also lowering the center of gravity enabling high-speed turns and tilting.

Talgo Independent Wheels: Talgo train coaches are different from both of these in that do not even have bogies at all. They are like Jakob’s bogies that wheels are shared by coaches, but, in this case, there are just two wheels, one each side, sitting at the junction between coaches, shared by two coaches! These two wheels are “independent” that they are not even connected by an axle in the traditional sense. From eight wheels per coach for our trains, we have come to two wheels per coach for the Talgo.

Here are some cross-section views of a Talgo coach end, you can see how the coaches are connected.

Image

Image

See those pillar-like things? Those are vertical dampeners (suspension). While traditional railways believe in total separation of wheels and coach, Talgo coaches have integrated wheels into the coach itself with their suspension end buttressing the roof of the coach! And the wheels are independently rotating, leading to higher stability.

This independent wheel model of the Talgo enable all of its greatest advantages:

Weight: Our trains are terribly overweight. An LHB AC Chair Car weighs 39.5 tons or 16.8 tons for every ten meters, while ten meters of Talgo coach weigh just 9.3 tons at a weight per seat ratio of only 341 kg, making Talgo coaches 45% lighter than LHB coaches. As Talgo coaches do not have bogies, axles and only 1.5 wheels per coach as opposed to two bogies, four axles and eight wheels per LHB coach, a lot of weight and the need for lugging all that weight (one FIAT-SIG bogie used in LHB coaches weighs 6.6 tons, and two of them put together weigh as much as an entire Talgo coach!) as well as the rotational inertia of all those axles and wheels. In all, this means much, much faster acceleration and braking and everything.

Efficiency: Railway vehicles energy efficiency is measured by their weight-per-seat ratio. Our LHB coaches have a weight per seat ratio of 506 kg, while Talgo coaches have a weight per seat ratio fo only 341 kg, meaning a Talgo coach uses much less energy to move the same load, which makes it much more energy efficient than our heavy coaches. Talgo trains, overall, have the least weight-per-seat ratios in the world.

Taking Curves: While most trains today achieve tilting to tackle curves without slowing down by mechanically “raising” one edge of the coach body using hydraulics controlled by a computer, Talgo’s trains just let nature do the job, and have no additional equipment installed for this. The absence of bogies and high suspension create extremely low centers of gravity and high rotational center, enabling Talgo coaches to achieve tilting ‘automatically’ by ‘naturally’ utilizing forces of inertia.

Are Talgo Trains Suitable for India?
The Talgo trials were not just a test of coach compatibility but also a phase in India’s search for modern trains that look better, feel better, run faster to replace its ancient fleet. The Talgo seems to fit the bill, but are they those trains India is looking for? Talgo coaches not just are able to run on Indian tracks, but can do so at good speeds. But the coaches cannot be inducted into Indian Railways based on speed trials alone, there are a number of other parameters to be considered before it can be decided if Talgo trains can run in India. Speed is good, looks are good, but all that will not matter if they can not do what they are supposed to do, like capacity, for instance.

The biggest advantage and disadvantage of Talgo coaches is their independent wheelset model. While this ensures high speeds on curves, greater passenger comfort, and the least energy consumption it also severely limits the length of coaches and hence their carrying capacity. If at all Talgos were to come to India, it would surely not be the Talgo 250 trainset that can have only a maximum of 11 coaches and 299 passengers. This sounds laughable in India where our trains regularly have 22 coaches and we seat 300 passengers in just three coaches (or sometimes in a single coach)! Obvious questions of financial viability aside, putting aside precious shared track space for such a small train will be a tremendous waste. So, since using the coaches as a trainset would not work, we could replace our existing coaches with Talgo coaches. Would that work? We have already seen that they are compatible with our locomotives and tracks. To see how they perform in capacity-wise, let us compare Indian Railways’ LHB coaches and Talgo Pendular coaches in the AC Chair Car configuration.

Meters/ Meter Square One TALGO Coach One LHB Coach TWO TALGO Coaches
Length 13.14 23.54 26.28
Width 2.96 3.24 2.96
Area 38.89 76.27 77.79
No of Seats 36 78 72
Passenger Density 0.93 1.02 0.93
Area per Passenger 1.07 0.98 1.07

Comparison of Talgo and LHB coaches show that two Talgo coaches are only three meters longer, have an area of just one square meter more and can seat only six fewer people compared to a single LHB coach, meaning that Talgo coaches have almost the same capacity of our LHB coaches, unlike many European trains when it comes to seating configuration. So, Talgo coaches are of the same dimensions and capacity as our coaches and can run faster and are more comfortable than our trains. So why not just go for them?

There is something everyone seems to be forgetting. All Talgo coaches provided are of seating format, the most used train coach format all over the world. However, this AC Chair Car format is a premium service in India and commands only a minuscule portion of the market, limited to just 50 Shatabdi Expresses and a couple of Durontos. Because of the size of India, its economics, demographics and low train speeds, Indian railways is one of the few operators in the world that run predominantly sleeper trains, with non-AC sleeper coaches making up a huge majority of IR’s express train coaches. The So, if any coach format has to be replaced, it is the non-AC Sleeper car. And, no manufacturer in the world makes those coaches, including Talgo, who does have Sleeper coaches are of European spec, spacious, luxurious and very low-capacity of only 20 couchettes (Europe-speak for sleeper berths) per coach. They could probably replace our AC 2 tier coaches. So, even if the Talgo coaches were to be adopted, they would be enough only to serve a very, very small percentage of the market.

And Talgo coaches are of course not compatible with our coaches, we there is no question of mixing them. Then there are other things working against Talgo such as the height of the coaches. Talgo trains sit very low because of their absence of bogies. The current problem of our platforms being too low for our trains will be reversed. Then there are questions of theirs toughness, suitability to our extreme and varying climates and even things like standing passengers and luggage carrying capacity. And Talgos are not EMUs, and the two power cars are a waste of space and capacity we could do without when moving to a new system. Talgo coaches cannot be easily attached and detached, they need workshops with complicated machinery to do that.

Indian Railways’ plan to replace our old coaches with swanky new trains had found life with its “Trainset Project“, aimed at purchasing 15 EMU trainsets to replace our existing coaches and locomotives for running Rajdhani and Shatabdi services. The Project is currently stuck because bidders believe 316 coaches is too less a quantity to be profitably produced and want the number to be increased to 1000. Talgo was one of the bidders, and the idea for these trials came from that tender. But, if they are aiming to sell 1000 or more Talgo coaches, they will be mistaken because the market for their product is definitely low in this country. They would have to produce a lot of non-AC coaches, sleeper and sitting, and also AC sleeper coaches confirming to our capacity standards. Talgo’s sleeper coaches should accommodate atleast 30 people instead of the 20 it does now. They will even have to come up with a new product altogether. This brings us back to where we started with the trainset project.

The best train model for India still remains high-capacity EMU trainsets with multiple axles powered, custom built for Indian conditions. While Talgo coaches can be serious contenders with their unique wheels and light weight, their scope is, unfortunately, way too limited. If at all Talgo coaches were to be adopted, Indian Railways will have to initiate either one of two massive policy shifts. Either we have to convert a lot of sleeper trains into seating ones, or we have make all our trains air-conditioned like they are everywhere in the world. How about that?

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby vina » 19 Aug 2016 16:57

Talgo Independent Wheels: Talgo train coaches are different from both of these in that do not even have bogies at all. They are like Jakob’s bogies that wheels are shared by coaches, but, in this case, there are just two wheels, one each side, sitting at the junction between coaches, shared by two coaches! These two wheels are “independent” that they are not even connected by an axle in the traditional sense. From eight wheels per coach for our trains, we have come to two wheels per coach for the Talgo.


Ah, brings back memories of long long ago, when I asked AmberG , how do the Talgo coaches which have indepenent wheel sets (unlike conventional bogies which have a fixed rod connecting them and hence rotate at same speeds) , go around the curves and stay on the tracks?

Obviously, the answer Feynman gives on how the train stays on the track does not apply to the Talgo! The Talgo runs on the exact same tracks as a conventional train!


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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby SaiK » 20 Aug 2016 06:18

From
Image

To
Image

Now, tell me how are we to achieve?

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby ssundar » 20 Aug 2016 06:26

SaiK wrote:To
Image

Now, tell me how are we to achieve?


Saar, this picture is a white elephant. RMB 50 to take you 40 km from an international airport to a suburban station. Runs empty a significant amount of time. You don't want to propose a project like this in a country where even a real HSR is being challenged as "what a waste".

The government should stay the course on Semi- and Full-speed HSR but move forward faster - no pun intended. We cannot wait for the Mumbai-Ahmadabad project to be done to announce more HSRs.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby SaiK » 20 Aug 2016 08:17

I think it depends on how it is funded, and what is the ROI. we need more details before we bash this puppy


-----
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srfihA6ERvE
terrible audio though

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 22 Aug 2016 06:16

Signal-free Rail Corridor to connect East West Delhi in the pipeline

New Delhi: In a joint initiative, the Delhi Government and Delhi Division of Northern Railways have planned an integrated signal free East-West corridor. With this, commuters will get rid of traffic congestion from Vikas Marg, ITO, New Delhi and other central Delhi areas on the east-west Delhi route. Also, the travel time shall be cut short to nearly 30 minutes as compared to 90 minutes at present.

In a letter to the Delhi Division of Railways, the Delhi Government’s Public Works Department (PWD) has planned a corridor that will provide connectivity at Anand Vihar and New Delhi Railway station.

“It will provide congestion-free connectivity to major railway stations at Anand Vihar and New Delhi. The East West corridor is proposed to start from Anand Vihar railway terminal and traverse along the railway track to New Delhi railway station and then to Punjabi Bagh up to Tikri Border in West Delhi,” the PWD said in the letter addressed to General Manager, Northern Railway.


Bangladesh okays Akhaura-Agartala rail link project

Dhaka: The Bangladesh government yesterday approved the construction of Akhaura-Agartala dual gauge railway link project aiming to improve rail connectivity and boost trade and economy between the India and Bangladesh.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, nodded to the part of the project that falls on Bangladesh side.

The project on the Bangladesh side will cost about Tk 477.81 crore. Of the amount, Bangladesh will provide Tk 57.05 crore while the rest will come from India as grant.
...
A stretch of 10.54 km of the track will be on the Bangladesh side while the rest on the Indian side. The laying of the railway tracks are estimated to be completed by 2017.

In today’s meeting, the ECNEC also approved six other new projects involving a total cost of Tk 1,095 crore, of which Bangladesh will provide Tk 674.71 crore while Tk 420.76 crore will come as project finance.


Rail track doubling between Kayamkulam-Ernakulam set to gather steam

Thiruvananthapuram: Railways are gearing up to complete another 57 km of the much-delayed doubling along the Kayamkulam-Ernakulam stretch, via Kottayam and Alappuzha, this December.

The 12-km stretch between Piravom Road-Kuruppanthura, the 27-km line between Chingavanam and Chengannur (both via Kottayam) and the 18-km Ambalappuzha-Haripad stretch via Alappuzha are the corridors identified for completion this year.

Railways have fixed March 2017 as deadline to complete the doubling between Kuruppanthura and Chingavanam.


Once this is achieved by the next financial year, Railways will be able to complete the doubling of the 114-km railway corridor from Kayamkulam to Ernakulam via Kottayam that began 13 years ago (2003).

Railways will be able to considerably increase the speed of long-distance mail and express trains, ensure punctuality and bring in new trains to the capital once the Kayamkulam-Kottayam-Ernakulam stretch is completed.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Singha » 22 Aug 2016 16:55

are we still making ICF std 1950s coaches new or all manufacture has moved to LHB coaches, albeit the non-AC ones still retain the old small windows and horrible interior fittings?

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby SaiK » 22 Aug 2016 18:47

anything vikas would be characterized as white-elephant. [no pun intended] :D
anything patchworks and jugaad will be considered apt!
rest is master card

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby rahulm » 22 Aug 2016 21:18

ICF is now part of our civilisational heritage.its juggad wide open. The bullock cart of coach design. No sane mortal can dare tamper or meddle with this legacy. They will be branded traitors and flagged :)

The ALCO 251 (WDM) is the proverbial indian bull roaming free and wild coast to coast and far and wide.Thundering to rise from golden sunrises and chugging into dusty sunsets. Complete with multi coloured marigold garlands.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 23 Aug 2016 10:33

WiFi at 100 Railway Stations by year end in association with RailTel; says Google official

Google India Country Head (Public Policy) Chetan Krishnaswamy said that Google has set a target of providing Wi-Fi internet connectivity at 100 railway stations in the country by the end of this year. Mobile net users account for six to seven million among total users as on date, he said.
Chetan Krishnaswamy Country Head - Public Policy Google India speaks at Sahyadri College Mangalore

Mangalore: Addressing a gathering of students during Freshers’ Day organised at Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management, here, on Wednesday, Chetan said, “While 30 Railway stations are already networked, the work is on at remaining places in association with RailTel Corporation of India Ltd., (a Telecom Arm of Indian Railways) with the aim to provide high stream surfing, free for one hour, allowing the users to download whatever they prefer to.”


IRCTC makes it to Fortune India Next 500 List of Companies

New Delhi: For the second year in a row, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has made it to the prestigious Fortune India Next 500 list of Indian companies, with the Railway Ministry PSU improving its ranking to 199 from 328 in 2015.
...
The latest award for IRCTC whose total turnover rose from Rs. 1141 crore in 2014 to 15 to Rs. 1503 crore (unaudited) in 2015-2016

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 24 Aug 2016 08:16

Suresh Prabhu commissions new Nandyala-Yerraguntla Rail line

Vijayawada: Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu today commissioned a new railway line between Nandyala and Yerraguntla, which Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu described as the “dream of (late Prime Minister) PV Narasimha Rao.”

The Union Ministers and Chandrababu also flagged off a new passenger train between Nandyala and Kadapa on the occasion.
...
The 123-km railway line was built at a cost of Rs 967 crore and connects Kurnool and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh. This will also directly connect the Rayalaseema region with the state’s new capital Amaravati. The new line will gave a fillip to industrial activity in Kurnool and Kadapa districts that have a large mineral base, particularly the cement industry.

There will be eight stations between Nandyala and Yerraguntla with no unmanned level crossing for a length of 75 kms out of the entire stretch.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Yagnasri » 24 Aug 2016 08:53

At least on project is done in AP which otherwise left to fend itself by GOI after division.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby ssundar » 24 Aug 2016 10:57

Singha wrote:are we still making ICF std 1950s coaches new or all manufacture has moved to LHB coaches, albeit the non-AC ones still retain the old small windows and horrible interior fittings?


The concept of a/c and non-a/c is the most ridiculous paradox socialism ever came up with. In a society of equals, why should some sweat profusely and stink by the time they get to their destination and others travel in sub-antarctic temperatures protected by the thinnest of all white cloth ever produced by mankind? Let there be First, Business and Economy classes, but comfortable air temperatures for all.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby chandrasekaran » 24 Aug 2016 11:25

Before making A/c coaches the default, IR should first ensure that only bonafide passengers board a coach. All the sleeper/second class sitting coaches have swathes of people sitting or standing everywhere including the (in)famous SRMU badged folks who consider its their birth right to board any coach and sit anywhere they want. Even the A/c ones, have large group of people standing between the coach entrance and the toilet doors :)

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby SaiK » 24 Aug 2016 20:56

+1.3billion to ssundar. darn! make it all A/C including unreserved!


UNRESERVED LIVES MATTERS!

AC VS NON-AC IS CASTIFICATION SYSTEM INVENTED BY BRITS

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 25 Aug 2016 09:52

CCEA approves new Railway routes on various busy sections

New Delhi: To cope with local demand and smoothen rail traffic, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday gave approval to construction of a third line on several busiest railway routes, including Itarsi-Nagpur, Jhansi-Bina and Mathur-Jhansi sections.

The CCEA meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 280 km-long third line between Itarsi and Nagpur, given approval, is estimated to cost Rs 2,449.91 crore — with anticipated completion cost pegged at Rs 2,882.94 crore — and is expected to be completed in five years.

Besides facilitating travel, the line will provide additional transport capacity for industries in and around the Itarsi-Nagpur section.

Hoshangabad, Chhindwara and Betul districts of Madhya Pradesh and Nagpur district of Maharashtra will be covered by this line.

The CCEA also gave its approval for construction of a third line between Ballarshah and Kazipet at an estimated cost of Rs 2,063.03 crore and expected completion cost of Rs 2,403.22 crore. The 201.04 km-long railway line is expected to be completed in five years.

Besides facilitating travel, power plants, coal and cement traffic will have additional transport capacity to meet their requirements. Warangal, Adilabad and Karimnagar districts of Telengana and Chandrapur district of Maharashtra will be covered by this line.

CCEA also approved the construction of a third line between Jhansi-Bina and Mathura-Jhansi.

Besides facilitating the travel, goods trains passing through both these sections will get adequate capacity for smooth running.

Jhansi and Lalitpur districts of Uttar Pradesh and Sagar district (Bina) of Madhya Pradesh will be covered by Jhansi-Bina line while Mathura, Agra and Jhansi districts of Uttar Pradesh, Datiya, Gwalior and Morena districts of Madhya Pradesh and Dholpur district of Rajasthan will be covered by the Mathura-Jhansi line.

The Mathura-Jhansi section is a broad gauge double-line on the New Delhi-Mumbai CST route. These projects will enhance capacity, reduce detention and cater for future growth of traffic.

At present, the number of passenger and goods trains on these sections is far more than the capacity, resulting in heavy detention for trains.

The construction of a third line between Vijaywada Junction and Gudur Junction was also given the nod by the CCEA.

Krishna, Guntur, Prakasham and P.S. Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh will be covered by this line.

The construction of a third line between Rajnandgaon-Nagpur (Kalumna) in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh and Gondia, Bhandara and Nagpur districts in Maharashtra was also given the CCEA nod.

CCEA also approved the construction of a third line between Kharagpur (Nimpura) and Adityapur in West Singhburn districts of Jharkhand.

This line will ease the ever-increasing freight traffic between these sections.

The CCEA gave its approval for construction of a fourth line between Jharsuguda and Bilaspur.

The Jharsuguda-Bilaspur route forms part of the Howrah-Mumbai trunk route passing through major industrial areas. This line plays an important role in transportation of freight and passenger traffic from eastern and southern regions to northern and western regions, and vice versa. In order to meet the growth in the freight and passenger traffic, construction of fourth line on this route was essential.

The CCEA also approved the construction of a second line between New Bongaigaon and Kamakhya of Northeast Frontier Railway in Assam.

The single main line section from New Bongaigaon to Kamakhya via Goalpara is an alternative route to New Bongaigaon-Kamakhya via Rangiya linking Guwahati.

The doubling of New Bongaigaon-Kamakhya via Goalpara route would augment the line capacity for smooth running of trains through the section.


http://www.railnews.co.in/capacity-augm ... e-changer/

Railways has got cabinet approval for nine rail expansion projects involving laying a total of 1937 km long additional line in 11 states to ensure smooth freight and passenger movement.

“Currently, we have capacity of handling 1200 million tonnes (MT) freight loading. But by 2020, the transportation requirement will be 1500 MT,” Chairman Railway Board (CRB) AK Mital said here.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 25 Aug 2016 10:05

Indian Railways set to move from surplus/shortfalls to profit/loss; here’s how

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New Delhi: Moving a step closer to a corporate-like presentation of its financial numbers,Indian Railways, which has always fought shy of recognising profits and losses and merely talked about surpluses/shortfalls, has made its entire northwest zone shift to accrual-based accounting. It had earlier launched the system on a pilot basis for the rail coach factory in Kapurthala in the zone.

The accrual-based accounting would provide for asset valuation, sharper estimates of costs and better understanding of the return on investments.

Put simply, the system could help the railways virtually become a PSU that can willingly seek profits, although governed by a special statute, as is the case of LIC and ONGC. Also, when the financial numbers are better explained, it could seek private funds and external debt a little more easily than now, although the actual financial strength is what would matter. The Cabinet is set to consider a proposal from the railway ministry for the creation of a $5-billion fund with multilateral agencies including the World Bank to step up the transporter’s capacity expansion projects.

Official sources told that four divisions and three workshops in the northwest zone have adopted the new accounting system, which will be replicated across the organisation on a war footing. An expert committee, comprising railway officials and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, would soon come out with accounting standards that are at once IR-specific and compliant with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Being a public utility obligated to take up many projects that won’t yield return on capital, the national transporter uses a cash-based accounting system; though a tariff regulator that will recommend fares is on the cards, it may still have a long way to go before introducing commercial pricing of its services (the passenger segment continues to be heavily subsidised). Experts have long said that the IR’s inability to attract private funds or even multilateral finance for its huge expansion needs is partly due to the opaque system of accounting it follows and lack of clarity on return on investments. Even though the gross receipts of the IR (predominantly traffic receipts) is shown to slightly exceed its ordinary working expenses, it is partly because of the flexibility it enjoys when it comes to appropriations to depreciation reserve fund and to a certain extent, even the safety fund, while the pension fund is a revenue expenditure item not much amenable to discretion. The shift to accrual-based accounting would make such accounting indiscipline difficult.

The accrual system of accounting records revenue and expenses when they are incurred; the system registers transactions carried out on credit basis, by recording these as either receivables or payables. In other words, a transaction is recorded when the right to earn income is established or when expenditure is committed. In the cash-based system being followed currently, however, transactions carried out on a credit basis are not recognised. Also, in this system, since the main objective is to record only the flow of cash, the records of assets created, purchased, disposed of, etc, are not kept.

Currently, the railways hardly pays any income tax (indirect taxes paid including service tax on passenger fares and freight are a pass-through), and the dividend it pays is nothing but the interest payable on the capital at charge (Plan expenditure), which is treated as loan in perpetuity. Corporate-like accounting might also lead to the demand that IR’s income should be taxed.

In fact, when Lalu Prasad was railway minister (2004-2009), he had introduced some changes in IR’s accounting practices. His statement of “cash and investible surplus” was apparently aimed at painting a better picture of its balance sheet to investors. Critics, however, said this practice inflated IRs cumulative cash surplus before dividend (somewhat akin to Ebitda or earnings before interest, tax and depreciation and amortisation). Cash surplus was a novel financial yardstick for the railways that used to speak of only surplus/shortfall. Later, Mamata Banerjeeas railway minister abandoned this practice. It was pointed out that Prasad’s investible surplus comprised appropriations from IR’s own revenue that can barely be classified as capital investment, as the money is used for replacement of existing assets rather than creating new capital assets that can generate income.

The government, meanwhile, is considering dispensing with the practice of presenting railway budget; it may merge the railway accounts with the general budget.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby sanjayc » 25 Aug 2016 17:16

DRDO's bio-toilets raise a stink
http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/ ... 577403.ece

The much-hyped bio-toilets invented by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and installed in railway coaches, public places and colonies seem to have sparked of a controversy with some senior scientists raising voice against the functioning and technology which allegedly uses cow dung instead of imported bacteria.

Developed by Gwalior-based Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE) and Tezpur-based Defence Research Laboratory (DRL), both laboratories of DRDO, the bio-toilets, fondly known as 'E-loo', use anaerobic microbial bacteria to decompose and convert biological human excreta into usable water and gasses.

Though initially, the bio-toilets installed in high-altitude regions such as Siachen and Ladakh performed as expected for a certain period, now many of them are reportedly abandoned or unused for obvious reasons leading to objections from the armed forces.
While the DRDO said the anaerobic bacteria have been imported from Antarctica and can effectively function in extreme conditions and temperature ranging from -6 degree Celsius to 50 degree C, a group of DRDO scientists claimed that the imported bacteria cannot survive in high temperature.

"Since such type of anaerobic bacteria are abundantly available in cow dung, the cattle waste is now being used in bio-toilets while the research organisation is hoodwinking the people in the name of technology development by wasting crores. Like the bio-toilets, the normal septic toilets also have a perfect anaerobic environment with the only difference being addition of cow dung in the name of inoculum culture in the former," they said.

According to senior DRDO scientist Dr Y Ashok Babu, who has lodged a complaint with the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) seeking a probe into it, the imported bacteria worked perfectly well in the laboratory but did not work efficiently in the Siachen region, for which a solar panel heating system was added to accelerate digestion process.

"There is no requirement of specific bacteria in the normal temperature and local bacteria in the septic tank will do the same task more efficiently if cow dung is added to it. The technology is a farce which allows a handful of greedy business people to earn crores of rupees," the complaint stated.

DRDE Director Dr Lokendra Singh, however, refuted the allegations. He said the cow dung is used only to multiply the bacteria brought from Antarctica, which can survive in Indian conditions. "Actually the cow dung used in the toilets is not the cattle waste but the bacteria which are transported through it. The toilets are working perfectly for which the Railways has given bulk orders," he claimed.

The DRDO has so far made the transfer of technology (ToT) agreement with 56 companies which are producing bio-toilets at a cost ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 75 lakh depending on the volume of population using it and quality of materials.

Singh informed that while already 40,000 bio-toilets have been installed in railway coaches, additional 80,000 toilets are to be installed shortly. Besides, around 20,000 E-loos have been placed in colonies, urban areas and villages. The Indian Railways has planned to install 2.5 lakh toilets in all coaches by October 2, 2019.

disha
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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby disha » 25 Aug 2016 22:33

^^ Another article with false headline to garner eye-balls!

The stink is whether to use 'imported' bacteria from Antartica at high cost or is the same bacteria present in cow dung? Basically a war of opinion and words over BS.

But the article leads us to believe that bio-toilets are not working!!

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Karan M » 27 Aug 2016 15:30

Plus the issue is relevance to siachen. IR does not (yet) operate in siachen AFAIK.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby SaiK » 28 Aug 2016 08:32

^^^

"instead of imported bacteria"


should we now legally use un-parliamentary words? WTF!

a presstitute paid for deep pleasure and press-dom!

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby JTull » 29 Aug 2016 17:29

10 Aug 2016 article. Worth a read.

Indian Railways: Mission Impossible?

Every week, without fail, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu takes stock of the two dedicated freight corridors (DFCs) that are being constructed - one running from Delhi to Mumbai and the other connecting Ludhiana to Dankuni in West Bengal. He pores over the reports giving details of different segments of the two stretches. And he has also started getting drone footage of various stretches, which will be sent to him quarterly.

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Work on the two corridors, which began under the UPA government in 2008, had been slow. Things began to change when Prabhu became minister in November 2014 after the new NDA government took charge. Today, 95 per cent of the land is acquired, and projects worth Rs 48,000 crore allocated. The first stretch of the Eastern DFC connecting Khurja (near Aligarh) to Bhopur (near Kanpur) is expected to be commissioned in December 2017. And both the DFCs are likely be commissioned in full by end-2019.

Prabhu is clear that nothing should hold up work on these projects. After all, the DFCs are crucial to his plan to raise revenues and regain lost freight market share from roads. There are hiccups - 1,042 court cases and 3,391 arbitration cases are being fought between those who lost land for the projects and the DFCCIL. But Prabhu is undeterred - he wants to add three more DFCs connecting Delhi-Chennai (north-south), Kharagpur-Mumbai (east-west) and Kharagpur-Vijayawada on the east coast. The new DFCs will optimise the existing tracks and will opt for greenfield projects selectively.

However, DFCs are not the only thing occupying the minister's mind currently. Prabhu is also in the process of restructuring the Railway Board (See The Restructuring of Railway Board) to change the way decisions are taken in the Indian Railways, improve passenger amenities by upgrading the quality of coaches, adding Wi-Fi, running special trains like super luxury Tejas and modern Deen Dayalu, etc., while also reducing costs, speeding up project execution, and dreaming up new ways of raising finances.

Fixing the Indian Railways, the fifth biggest rail network in the world with 1.3 million employees, won't be easy. It connects the entire country through 68,525 km of route track (in 2014), 12,961 passenger trains, and 8,637 freight trains. It also runs 125 hospitals, 586 polyclinics, 102 schools and sundry other initiatives.

Impressive. But it is also archaic with poor facilities and on-time record. It spent 92.5 paisa last year to earn every rupee of revenue, leaving practically nothing to invest in new facilities or improve current ones. Then there are unions to deal with, who dislike all change, small and big. And Prabhu plans to spend Rs 8.56 lakh crore to fix all problems by 2019, assuming he remains the Railways Minister.

It is a Herculean task. What works for the Railways is that it can still count on huge passenger traffic where both road and airlines are unviable for multiple reasons. It also owns thousands of acres of land. Both factors can be leveraged to raise funds as well as recurring revenues. But to understand whether he can make a difference or not, one needs to look at both the details of the problems he needs to solve, as well as the plan he has worked out.

The Nitty-Gritty

Different Union governments and railway ministers have commissioned multiple studies on what ails the Railways and how to turn it around. Over the past 10 years, at least 12 committees have presented their reports on the sector, the latest being the Bibek Debroy Committee report, which was commissioned in 2014 (two months before Prabhu took charge) and was presented in June 2015. Most reports agree substantially on the basic problems, though they differ in their approaches to solutions.

The first problem is that all governments worry about the Railways becoming a big financial burden on the Union Budget, and want to make it a largely self-sufficient organisation run on the lines of an efficient corporation. But they also want Railways to serve as a transport system for the poor. Result: much of the passenger traffic is cross-subsidised heavily, and some decisions - like new trains and routes - are often decided on non-commercial reasons. Successive railway ministers, for example, have refused to raise passenger fares. Dinesh Trivedi from Trinamool Congress, who was the minister in 2012 in the coalition UPA II government, had to resign because he raised passenger fares without checking with his party leader Mamata Banerjee. As a result, passenger fares, especially at the lower end have remained static for more than a decade.

To keep its finances from going underwater, successive ministers have also raised freight charges, making freight uncompetitive vis-Ã -vis roads. This strategy worked reasonably well in 2004-2009 when Lalu Prasad was the railway minister. The global and Indian economy were booming and customers did not worry too much about freight costs. But as the economy slowed, Railways' freight charges became increasingly uncompetitive, though ministers like Mamata Banerjee and Trivedi - who came after Lalu - kept raising them and refrained from touching passenger fares. "Our passenger fare is cheapest in the world and freight is the costliest. This is increasing the inefficiencies, distortion, and the performance of Railways," says Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mittal. In the last Budget, Prabhu tabled freight earnings of Rs 1,11,853 crore out of the gross traffic receipts of Rs 1,67,834 crore. The rest were from passenger fares and advertisement revenues. That ratio should ideally be 1:1.

The other two reasons for losing freight market share are inefficiency of railway freight and continuous neglect of infrastructure. The days of liberalisation saw subsequent governments increasing investments only in roads.

The second challenge: Indian Railways has bloated into a mammoth, centralised organisation with hierarchical decision-making and a culture of operating in silos. As a result, even simple decisions take years to resolve. Debroy talks about one decision on hot cases to keep food warm for passengers, which was kept pending for 25 years. "The member (electrical) had one view, while the member (traffic) had another," he says.

The third problem lies with finances and accounting. Indian Railways spends heavily on revenue expenditure - there is little left for capital expenditure. As a result, that money comes mostly from the Union Budget. But for real change, IR needs to generate enough funds on its own for capital expenditure and also find new, non-government sources of funding. But that can only happen if Railways is run as an efficient corporation with a healthy balance sheet that can be leveraged to raise debt. Currently, it doesn't even maintain accounts on commercial lines. So, when a new train is introduced, it cannot tell whether the line is profitable or loss-making. No return on expenditure is calculated on any expansion or any new project currently, points out the Debroy Committee report.

The fourth big problem is general inefficiencies that have been built in over the years. On almost all parameters, Railways lags behind. Its projects are both commissioned late and end up with cost and time overruns in execution. In the previous fiscal, it missed most of its targets, including of electrification, track renewals, bridge works, and doubling of tracks. In fact, out of the capital outlay of Rs 1,00,010.62 crore, it could spend only Rs 82,192.11 crore. In 2014/15, projects worth Rs 6.5 lakh crore were stuck, including works related to doubling, new lines, gauge conversion, traffic facilities, and electrification. Today Railways faces a burden of Rs 4,83,511 crore for the execution of 458 unfinished projects.

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More worrying, operating ratios (what Railways spends to earn each rupee) are likely to get worse as costs pile up, including money for the 7th Pay Commission recommendations - nearly Rs 28,000 crore this year to retirees and serving employees. Prabhu's request for additional budgetary support of Rs 32,000 crore from the finance ministry was rejected. The Railways is expected to save Rs 5,000 crore in fuel costs (diesel, thanks to global slowdown and electricity because of innovations), but Prabhu needs to do more to reach the targeted operating ratio of 92 this year.

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"If Railways has to perform like a corporate house, rationalisation needs to come," says Vijay Kumar Dutt, former additional member of the Railway Board. But Sudhir Kumar, who was OSD to Lalu Prasad when the latter was Railway minister, believes it is impossible to implement because no minister wants to start increasing fares rapidly. One reason for that, says a person working with Prabhu closely, is that over the years passenger amenities have deteriorated, which makes passengers disinclined to pay extra. Prabhu is working to rapidly improve passenger amenities so that charges can slowly be increased.

Stitching the Plan

Prabhu has started on the recovery process by implementing a recommendation of the Debroy Committee - commercial auditing. An audit has started in Ajmer division, which will cover the country in the next two years. Prabhu says that he has asked his PSU, Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), to do an analysis of potential earning and actual earning of every train. "This exercise will give us enough data to understand which train makes how much money, and what more alterations can be made to make more money and expand operations," he says.

Next up, Prabhu is unlocking stranded projects. He has appointed seven mission directors to ensure smooth and efficient execution of the projects, who report directly to him and to Mittal. Along with this, he has started very few new trains in the past two years. In his two budgets, Prabhu has taken the outlay to Rs 1.21 lakh crore. He has come up with a five-year plan, and is committed to take the investments in Railways to Rs 8.56 lakh crore by 2019. Since this is beyond the budgetary support he can get from the finance ministry, Prabhu is looking at other ways of financing, including SPVs with states and PSUs for projects that are specific to them, and raising money via debt - LIC has committed to a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

He is also trying to rope in private investments, such as for the redevelopment of 412 stations. The first station - Habibganj in Madhya Pradesh - is already undergoing redevelopment; next in line are Bijwasan and Anand Vihar in Delhi, and Chandigarh. "Private players are negotiating that the age of lease must be extended from 55 to 99 years; Railways is working out the modalities," says Shashanka Shekhar Panda, CEO of Blue Earth Enterprise, a public policy strategy consulting firm. Prabhu told BT he is reworking the entire plan to make it more lucrative for investors.

Prabhu is moving on other fronts as well. To cut the inefficiency in track electrification, he roped in Power Minister Piyush Goyal. Last fiscal, Railways met its target of 1,600 km of electrification. Goyal is bringing in the expertise of power ministry's PSUs EESL and Power Grid Corp to execute electrification of 35,000 km in the next seven years. Apart from speeding up execution, this will also cut diesel consumption. Last year, Railways consumed diesel worth Rs 16,000 crore. Railways is also complementing Goyal's endeavour of pushing renewable energy by adding 1,000 MW by 2020. This includes turning several stations completely on solar. "We are working on the modalities," says Goyal. "The nation would save a lot once this is executed."

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Prabhu wants to create a holding company for Indian Railways, and bring all its PSUs as subsidiaries. This holding company can take financial leverage and access bond or debt markets, and may also help in improving execution. The flip side: faulty execution of projects could land Railways in a debt trap. "You have Air India run as a 'corporate' entity, and its finances are a complete mess," says a former Railway Minister on condition of anonymity. "You have to delink politics from the economy of Railways to make it run like a business house."

Prabhu also took Cabinet approval for his ambitious plan to form JVs with states. But critics say it is not an original idea. "The MOU with states is only repackaging, with some changes, of earlier participative models and practice to provide connectivity to ports, miners and industrial hubs, besides building new railway overbridges and underbridges and for new manufacturing facilities," says former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Prabhu's plan, though, is more integrated. He wants these JVs to also take up projects of station redevelopment, construction of new lines, formulation of new suburban railway networks, etc. The JVs will be allowed to form project-specific SPVs with equity holding from other stakeholders such as banks, ports, PSUs, mining companies and others. "These JVs not only give you managerial support from state governments, they also increase the efficiency and ensure early completion of projects," says an official from the Railway ministry.

But a BJP chief minister questions this. "Most state governments don't have enough funds to finance their own schemes; how do you expect projects of Railways to get fund from state budgets?"

Road Vs Rail

It's a battle that successive Railway ministers have lost. The contribution of railway transport has shrunk to 0.8 per cent of GDP; for roads, it is 5 per cent. What worries many is that Railways' freight output is stagnant at 660 billion tonne km. And there is increasing competition for passengers from low-cost airlines for traffic in AC-1 and AC-2 category. The draft civil aviation policy recommends easing air connectivity of smaller cities, a Railways stronghold.

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One of the solutions on offer is a regulator to rationalise tariffs. In January, Prabhu floated a consultation paper to set up a regulator to determine tariff (passenger and freight), to ensure fair play for private investors, and to maintain efficiency and performance standards. The Cabinet note to formulate this is ready, and might come up as an executive order, which would later be followed by the legislature. Currently, Parliament has the authority to fix tariff and fares, and it would require approval from both Houses to delegate the powers to a regulator.

There are critics to introducing a regulator such as Bansal, Kumar and Lalu Prasad. "The regulator will work on cost-plus model. This will not allow Railways to reap the benefits of a free market, or to work like a corporate entity," argues another former Railways minister. Prabhu sees this as a reform that would give stakeholders, including private investors, a level playing field.

Prabhu is also pushing his men to look for ways to increase the freight basket from 10 commodities to over 40. Initially, they looked for an answer in TransLoc. Starting with a paid-up capital of Rs 500 crore, this new enterprise was to have 10 existing goods sheds and develop 30 small multimodal logistic parks. The ministry was also to develop its air cargo infrastructure to integrate the movement of air cargo between inland container depots (ICDs) and the gateway airports. This could have been the first serious move by Indian Railways to move away from the traditional 10 commodities, like iron ore, aluminium, coal, and grains, which bring in 90 per cent of its freight earnings. But the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) did not want a new PSU to be created. In June, Prabhu initiated a JV with Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor - an SPV under Nirmala Sitharaman's DIPP. "This will speed up things, as DMIC already has land, and are anyway developing their projects adjacent to DFCs," says a senior official from the PMO.

This new logistics JV, along with Prabhu's pet project of setting up an auto hub in Walajabad near Chennai, could help Railways reclaim lost market share. Last fiscal, Railways reported earnings of roughly Rs 100 crore by moving 4 per cent of India's automobile deliveries. Prabhu wants to take this to over 20 per cent by 2026. One rake can take 300 cars, in comparison to 20 cars in a container truck. On March 1, the first phase of the Walajabad facility was inaugurated, which can park 5,000 cars. The first train moved in July, and covers Delhi to Chennai in 72 hours against 14 days earlier. The adjoining areas such as Oragadam, Sriperumbudur and Singaperumal Kovil have capacities of Hyundai, Nissan, Ford, Daimler, etc., and can manufacture a million cars annually.

But while it is cheaper for companies to move freight on trains, they prefer roads. "I am ready to move my products on Railways, but Prabhu needs to convince me his trains will not get late, and I will be able to track where my goods are," says an official at a top automobile manufacturer. The Delhi-Chennai freight train, in fact, is the first to run on time. If this continues, the Walajabad hub can easily save 20-25 per cent of logistics cost of original equipment makers (OEMs) on movement of their products. But if it doesn't, Prabhu's calculations will remain only on paper.

Prabhu is also busy improving last-mile connectivity and building infrastructure to increase traffic from ports and bigger industrial projects. Last fiscal, Railways commissioned connectivity with Tuna port, and work is on to reach Jaigarh, Dighi, Rewas and Paradip.

Make it For Railways
On November 9, 2015, a day after Prabhu's party BJP faced a humiliating defeat in Bihar's state assembly elections, his ministry issued a letter of awards to the US major GE and French firm Alstom. The agreement is to set up two separate locomotive manufacturing facilities at Marhowra and Madhepura districts of the state, respectively. This was critical for Indian Railways, as the message went out that the fate of projects would be measured on pure business grounds. "The file also never went to the minister. This was unthinkable just a few years ago," says Mittal. More importantly, these were the biggest orders Indian Railways committed in several years. These projects will allow Railways to upgrade several of the existing 10,773 locomotives, and also allow some old and inefficient ones to retire. GE has committed to manufacture 1,000 four-stroke diesel locomotives, whereas Alstom will manufacture 800 electric locomotives, in 10 years from setting up of the factories.

To make this happen, Prabhu opened the doors to FDI. The ideological parent of BJP, RSS is fundamentally against FDI and initially opposed it as well. The powerful Railways unions too are sceptical of big corporates coming and "taking away" their jobs. "The private investments and FDI are not welcome. They will only lead to more exploitation in the name of more profits," says Shiva Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, All India Railwaymen's Federation. While he admits that to expand the network and modernise operations, Railways needs more capital, he argues this should come from government coffers. Prabhu is engaging with these unions and taking them along. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi convinced the top leadership of RSS. RSS leaders say the leadership agreed but insisted that the NDA government must push for technology transfer.

The international majors were pushing for assured offtake. In negotiations, Prabhu made them agree to Railways' demand of committing to maintenance, and making the pricing formula work. More than that, Prabhu faced a challenge as this was the first time Railways was dealing with foreign players for such a big deal, and the officers were not willing to take risks. And they had their own apprehensions. For example, former chairman of Railway Board, Arunendra Kumar, who was part of the initial deliberations on allowing FDI in locomotive manufacturing, says he had his differences on pricing in comparison to domestic players. "The private entry is an experiment," he says. "Nobody has ever given this big an order of 10 years."

His apprehension may not be misplaced. Each locomotive manufactured at Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) Varanasi is priced at Rs 13-18 crore. GE refused to share its price with BT. But Nalin Jain, President and CEO at South Asian chapter of GE (Rail, Mining, Defence & Aerospace), said that its locomotives will be of Evaluation grade -which is modern technology, and the prices are competitive. The market estimates are Rs 14.7 crore a locomotive.

Another point of view came from Debroy: "I would have liked a model where Railways came out with their plan to procure X number of locomotives in, say, the next 10 years rather than committing the offtake." But for Alstom and GE, it's a good deal. With commitment of $2.6 billion investments, this is GE's biggest bet in India, whereas, the euro 3 billion commitment is significant for Alstom, too. "The assured offtake gives us comfort of designing the whole project," says Bharat Salhotra, Managing Director of Alstom Transport India. This also provides business opportunity for players like Bharat Forge, L&T, ABB, and Siemens.

Efforts are on to revive projects to build coaches as well. This includes expanding the Raibareli facility's capacity to 1,200 coaches from 400 annually. But the Railways is undecided on the Palakkad rail coach factory, which is delayed since 2008, and was to be the first coach manufacturing facility with private investments. Meanwhile, Railways has decided to allow import of train sets instead of insisting on manufacturing in India. The initial requirement is of 17 train sets (316 coaches), which can run on semi-high speed, out of which five can be brought in complete knockdown condition and assembled here, and the rest is to be made in India. The five bidders who qualified for the project are Alstom-BEML, CAF-Bombardier, Hitachi-Ansaldo, Siemens and Kawasaki-Toshiba-BHEL. In two rounds of financial bids, none of the contenders put in their bets. "We asked for increasing the order size from 316 to 1,000 coaches to make our investments viable," says the CEO of one consortium partner. But Railways disagreed.

Cutting to the Core

By 2019, Indian Railways is expected to have debt of Rs 2.5 lakh crore on its books. "Last year we spent on delegating projects, creating financial stability, improving operational efficiency," says a Railways official. "This year is for execution. We have a clear picture from where finances for the projects will come in the next three years."

Prabhu's baiters believe he is biting off more than he can chew. "There is a simple rule the corporate world teaches you: if you are taking financial leverage, you (as an organisation) need to bring operational leverage to the table. This is the only way. Else a debt trap is waiting for you," says a former railway minister. Adds Bansal: "The Railways does not appear to have the means and the capacity to service the debt. Only time will tell whether the Railways will be able to service the debt."

According to a senior Railway official, Prabhu's instructions to his GMs are clear: invest this money only where the IRR of the project is more than 12-14 per cent. LIC, in another first for Railways, agreed to offer debt through various instruments worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore over the next five years. This forms an integral part of Prabhu's Rs 8.56 lakh crore capex. The funds are available at a rate of 30 basis points over a 10-year benchmark yield. These bonds also come with a five-year moratorium on interest and loan repayment. "Today capital is no issue for us; we need to make our projects bankable and make them earn good IRRs," says Mittal.

That is easier said than done. Prabhu's real test will be in the execution of his plans. And on that would ride the future of Indian Railways.

THE CHINA MODEL

India under Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is not alone in reforming its mammoth Railways. The sector has undergone a major transformation in neighbouring China as well. In 2013, China dissolved its ministry of Railways. In the process, it separated policy and regulation from commercial operations. A new PSU - China Railway Corporation or CRC - was formed to run trains purely on commercial lines, whereas the transport ministry would do all the policy and planning. China is now in the league of countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Russia and the US, which have unitary transport ministries at the central level.

Can India take a leaf out of this? Not likely. While the railway operations of the eastern neighbour are of similar scale to India's, the issues might be identical and may require the same medicine, but the problem is that India is much slower in execution. India requires major investments to uplift the existing infrastructure. Plus, the Indian Railways has traditionally had a social obligation of providing cheap travel to the poor.

China also doesn't have the kind of suburban or intra-region service networks that India has. Although CRC would be compensated if required to provide services that are not commercially viable, China actively discourages shorter distance passenger trips. Such trips, in many countries including India, form a loss-making business.

Then, unlike China, India requires access to technologies for modernisation and more strategic investments, such as FDI. To clear the current mess, more government patronage would be required. The Bibek Debroy Committee report, Rakesh Mohan's India Transport Report, or Sam Pitroda's report to modernise railways, among others, recommended that India run its Railways on commercial lines. Prabhu, too, wants to set up a holding company, on the lines of CRC and make all the railway PSUs subsidiaries. But this requires Prabhu's reforms to take shape. Quickly.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Singha » 30 Aug 2016 07:35

just to give you an idea of the pressure of demand on trunk routes...we booked Howrah to Blr for our maid yesterday for mid-october return.

there are 2 trains daily from howrah to blr. and a collection of 7 trains which are few days a week or once a week from places like tinsukia, guwahati, and various places in bihar and eastern UP.

booking is deep into WL category even 45 days in advance on what may not be considered a prime people mover route.

unless we are able to double the number of seats on all such long haul routes esp with one end in eastern india(100s of millions of people from there work elsewhere due to economic hardships) the booking situation cannot be brought down to a more reasonable 2 weeks advance notice to get a confirmed seat.

coaches per train can no longer be increased beyond the 25.

once the trunk routes are doubled or tripled, we need to increase frequency to twice a day for the daily trains to have any dent on the problem.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 30 Aug 2016 08:50

The article is an excellent writeup on the challenges facing the Indian Railways and what Suresh Prabhu is doing to tackle them.

Then I notice these gems from the former railway ministers

"You have Air India run as a 'corporate' entity, and its finances are a complete mess," says a former Railway Minister on condition of anonymity. "You have to delink politics from the economy of Railways to make it run like a business house."


"The MOU with states is only repackaging, with some changes, of earlier participative models and practice to provide connectivity to ports, miners and industrial hubs, besides building new railway overbridges and underbridges and for new manufacturing facilities," says former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.


Prabhu's baiters believe he is biting off more than he can chew. "There is a simple rule the corporate world teaches you: if you are taking financial leverage, you (as an organisation) need to bring operational leverage to the table. This is the only way. Else a debt trap is waiting for you," says a former railway minister. Adds Bansal: "The Railways does not appear to have the means and the capacity to service the debt. Only time will tell whether the Railways will be able to service the debt."


I am "surprised" not one of them offered any suggestions on how to go about it and what they did to overcome these challenges during their tenures as rail mantri.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Kashi » 30 Aug 2016 08:57

KRCL to start electrification, track-doubling works after monsoon

30 Aug, 2016 in Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL), Mumbai / Rail Interviews by rail

Financial closure for both the projects has been done and we’ll raise the money within a month, says CMD

Mumbai: Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL), is set to enhance line capacity to handle more trains as it starts track-doubling work on its 740-km route after this year’s monsoon. The rail PSUalso plans to electrify its entire network in three years, says its Chairman and Managing Director Sanjay Gupta. Excerpts from an interview with Media:

What is the present status of doubling and electrification on the Konkan Railway?

We did Bhoomi Puja about a year ago. The tenders for doubling — patch doubling between Roha and Veer (46 km) — has been awarded in June. However, work will commence after the monsoon.

For electrification, paper work is on. We will be publishing the tender very soon. We hope to start work post monsoon. Financial closure for both the projects has been done. We will be raising money within a month. This will be financed by 30 per cent equity contribution from us and the remaining would be debt, over the next 4-5 years.

What is the estimated cost?

The estimated cost is about Rs.300 crore for the patch doubling, cost of electrification would be between Rs.700 crore and Rs.800 crore for complete electrification of the 740-km length.

Plus, there would be some interest cost during construction that would get added to the project cost. We hope to complete both these things in three years time.

How are you trying to maximise revenue both passenger and freight?

A majority of the traffic originates in the Indian Railways system and either terminates on KRCL or passes through us. We cannot have a tariff system which is separate from that of the Indian Railways. We are like any other zonal railway from that point of view and distributed accordingly.

Besides, the three major ports situated near KRCL — JNPT, Goa port and Mangalore port — serve a hinterland which does not require them to use KRCL. Once other ports such as Jaigarh (Maharashtra) and Karwar (Karnataka) are developed fully, they will feed our railways system and we can get cargo.

What about running more passenger services?

At present, we are close to saturation. Passenger services now require a different focus — Chiplun- Khed has a different requirement, and so does Sawantwadi. Goa is heavy on week-end traffic and nowadays there is no off-season there. All our trains towards Goa — Konkan Kanya, Mandovi, JanShatabdi, Rajya Rani — are full, barring the AC double-decker.

In Jan Shatabdi and Rajya Rani, there is scope for increasing the length of the train, but they originate from Dadar a station which cannot handle rakes longer than 18 coaches, hence there is a limitation

May be in two years once the Panvel terminus comes in, additional trains for Pune/Konkan side would start from there. There is demand for day trains from Chiplun/Ratnagiri.

But we need a maintenance slot at the Mumbai end which is not working out. Once Nagothane- Roha on Central Railway and our section gets doubled, a few diesel multiple unit (DMU) services that are already running between Diva and Roha on Central Railway might be extended.

What are your hiring plans?

We are hiring essential category staff such as loco pilots, guards, TTEs and station masters regularly. KRCL is a young organisation. All of us were recruited together and we have virtually no retirement as of now. We also have plans to spread out our future recruitment in a manner so that we are not adversely affected by mass retirements.

What is your debt position as on date?

It was about Rs.1,500 crore in FY16.We will be picking up more debt for doubling and electrification of our network.

Our operating ratio as per the definition of the Indian Railways is 80 per cent (KRCL spends 80 paise to earn one rupee) — excellent as per IR standards. Now in FY17, we also have the impact of the Seventh Pay Commission.

What about revenue from projects outside Konkan Railway?

The J&K project has been doing really well. We made a topline of Rs.550 crore from the construction of the Kashmir Railway project last year. This year, we will touch a much higher figure and this will last for another 2-3 years. We also have two NTPC projects at Kudgi between Bijapur and Gadag (about Rs.400 crore) and at Gadarwara between Itarsi and Jabalpur (Rs.400-500 crore).

IR has enough shelf of projects and anybody and everybody with experience of rail projects will be occupied for the next many years, especially North East, doubling and new lines as the Government is investing heavily.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Prasad » 30 Aug 2016 12:03

That train singhaji runs from cantonment and is full everytime I see it. Packed! Same with the Coromandel expressm Madras.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby arshyam » 30 Aug 2016 19:14

^^ An observation from this morning at Chennai central. The incoming HWH mail at 03:40 hrs turns around as Coromandel exp at 08:45. I was walking past the 'empty' rake if the mail, having arrived by the Bangalore mail at 04:45. At that early hour, with another 4 hrs to go for departure, the unreserved coach was crammed with people and more desperately trying to get in. This, when MAS has 2 daily express trains, plus AC expresses to other Kolkata terminals like Santragachi, Shalimar, etc, and not to mention the host of passing through trains from Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum, Bangalore, etc. Looks like this route also needs a conveyor belt, like the one proposed by SR (in jest, of course) to Bangalore.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby prahaar » 30 Aug 2016 19:22

I was checking the Shanghai-Beijing HSR timetable. It is easily 4-5 trains per hour. I feel we need at least a train every two hours between high density routes like Chennai-Kolkatta, Delhi-Kolkatta, Mumbai-Kolkatta, etc. After looking at that time table Ahmedabad-Mumbai 2 trips per hour appears minimal.

https://www.travelchinaguide.com/china- ... hspeed.htm

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby soumik » 30 Aug 2016 19:34

@Prahaar with prices nearly 5600INR for a second class seat the Beijing-Shanghai HSR is an extremely expensive trainn it seems!

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby JTull » 30 Aug 2016 20:10

prahaar wrote:I was checking the Shanghai-Beijing HSR timetable. It is easily 4-5 trains per hour. I feel we need at least a train every two hours between high density routes like Chennai-Kolkatta, Delhi-Kolkatta, Mumbai-Kolkatta, etc. After looking at that time table Ahmedabad-Mumbai 2 trips per hour appears minimal.

https://www.travelchinaguide.com/china- ... hspeed.htm


A semi-high speed (Talgo type) solution to reduce travel time could allow hourly trains between Delhi-Mumbai albeit with fewer coaches. Freight corridors are also needed to reduce congestion.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby A Nandy » 30 Aug 2016 20:11

I think its safe to say that no train project in India will fail if the price is not too outlandish and the route is bursting like those above.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Rishirishi » 31 Aug 2016 02:27

Have travelled extensively in China with train. Here are the main observations.

1 Long distance above 800 km even HSR cant compete with flights.
2 travel between second tier cities is competative as smaller cities may not have direct flights. People hate changing flights. hence a fast train between Delhi and Mumbai may not be interesting (remember that fast train tickets are almost same cost as flight). But travel from Surat to Jaipur will be very desirable.

There seems to be a chronic shortage of train ticket in india. Perhaps a solution could be to let freight travel in the night and people during the day. All trains should has to be fast ones during the day, like Rajdhani. That would allow more people to be moved. I have never understood the logic of having non-AC trains. The cost of AC is minimal compared to the overall costs. As for people with less means, let all Indians travel for free 6 times a year by using the Identity card.
Last edited by Rishirishi on 31 Aug 2016 02:30, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Suraj » 31 Aug 2016 02:29

Increasing train density involves both the train and the track and signaling system. The tracks have to be capable of accommodating the services in more ways than one - capable of sufficient design speed, and multiple tracks to increase operational bandwidth. Signaling correspondingly needs to be able to handle the multiple tracks. Trains themselves need to be capable of rapid acceleration and deceleration, which enables them to more quickly clear signaling blocks. This requires both traction power and a lighter coach design. Current IR coaches are heavy and have a high CG, though the LHB coaches are better. But still, they accelerate very slowly. While not an apples to apples comparison, Shinkansen accelerates at ~2.8km/h/s . IR's most power loco accelerates at about 0.4km/h/s, and the regular bread and butter WDMs probably half of that.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Singha » 31 Aug 2016 11:40

the trunk routes are already maxed out. without quadrupling of tracks and better (lighter) trains there is no soln to chronic shortage. a GQ + EWNS quadrupling will take atleast 10 years with namo and suresh prabhu types at helm and 25 with the congis in charge.

this should have been started a decade ago.

the routes i mentioned are taking 150-200 rakes a day and operating at 90% load factors...there is no more headroom..we are out of band aids and only major overhaul will work.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Singha » 31 Aug 2016 11:42

Image

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Singha » 31 Aug 2016 11:45

so I was somewhat mistaken, some trunk routes are already > 100% and on the verge of collapse.

the dream is over. its time to hunker down , take the hit and quadruple this diamond and its diagonals and triple track other routes like to mysore-chennai , Blr to mumbai, chennai to trivandrum etc.

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Re: Indian Railways Thread (Dec 2015)

Postby Prasad » 31 Aug 2016 20:06

They've just approved adding extra lines along the ap-Nagpur to Itarsi stretch among others. It'll take a few years though.


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