STRIDES OF PROGRESS IN 2008
INDIAN RAILWAYS TAKE LEAD TO BOOST INDIAN ECONOMY
FIRST EVER TRAIN SERVICE IN KASHMIR VALLEY
REVENUE GENERATION GOES UP BY 13.93%
RAILWAYS ENTER LONG TERM AGREEMENT FOR COAL TRANSPORTATION TO FACILITATE POWER GENERATION
FIRST EVER RAILWAYMAN WINS OLYMPIC MEDAL
In its endeavour to become world’s No.1 rail transport network, the Indian Railways during the past few years have registered an unprecedented turnaround in its fortunes that has helped launch itself towards a path of gigantic growth and development, keeping in view the future transportation needs of the economy. Milestones have been bettered and sights set on newer ones, especially those that beckon it during the 11th Plan period such as the freight loading target of 1100 million tonnes during that period. The year 2008 has been significant for the Railways in achieving goals and targets with regard to the following:
Taking lead in boosting Indian economy
In the wake of present recession in the world economy, Indian Railways have drawn up plans towards the upgradation of rail infrastructure and procurement of new assets of rolling stock during the current financial year with an estimated expenditure of Rs. 37,500 crore to shore up the infrastructural development and upkeep. The move will go a long way in boosting the Indian Economy. Over the past few years, Indian Railways has been marching in tune with the requirements of the national economy and it has bettered the targets it set for itself in the process. Indian Railways have emerged as one of the major movers of economy as its plan size in the year 2007-08 has gone upto Rs. 37,500 crore from a plan size of Rs. 10,177 crore in the year 2000-01 and it has shown tremendous financial performance by achieving a cash surplus of Rs. 25,000 crore in 2007-08 as against a meager cash surplus of Rs. 350 crore in 2000-01.
Despite hike in diesel price, the Indian Railways did not pass Railways’ additional financial burden on its users – both Railway passengers and freight customers. Indian Railways consume 227 crore litres (2.27 billion litres) diesel per annum and an increase in the price of diesel by Rs. 3/- per litre cost Railways Rs. 681 crore annually. Railways absorb the diesel price hike by improving its productivity, efficiency and volumes.
The total approximate gross earnings of Indian Railways on originating basis during 1st April-30th November 2008 were Rs. 49818.10 crore compared to Rs. 43726.51 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 13.93 per cent. The total approximate freight earnings have gone up from Rs. 29146.18 crore during 1st April-30th November 2007 to Rs. 33392.83 crore during 1st April-30th November 2008, showing an increase of 14.57 per cent. The total approximate passenger revenue earnings during first eight months of the financial year 2008-09 were Rs. 14324.32 crore compared to Rs. 12698.25 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 12.81 per cent. The approximate revenue earnings from other coaching and sundry amounted to Rs. 2097.27 crore during April- November 2008 compared to Rs. 1881.37 crore during the same period last year, showing an increase of 11.47 per cent.
The total approximate number of passengers booked during April- November 2008 were 4717.37 million compared to 4430.75 million during the same period last year, showing an increase of 6.47 per cent.
Indian Railways have carried approximate 534.60 million tonnes of revenue earning freight traffic during the first eight months (i.e. April – November 2008) of the current financial year 2008-09. The freight carried shows an increase of 32.41 million tonnes over the freight traffic of 502.19 million tonnes actually carried during the corresponding period last year, reflecting an increase of 6.45 per cent.
The operating ratio in the Indian Railways is amongst the best in the world and has reached the level of 76 per cent during the year 2007-08.
First ever train service in Kashmir flagged off
The long awaited dream of the people of the Kashmir Valley was finally fulfilled when the Prime Minister flagged off the first train service in Kashmir Valley on 11th October 2008. The prestigious project was launched in the year 1998. The DMU train service covers a distance of 66 kilometres and There are nine stations in its entire journey. The stations are at Budgam, Srinagar, Pampore, Kakapora, Awantipora, Panjgam, Bijbehara, Rajwansher and Anantnag. The train runs twice in a day from either side and entire journey takes one hour and 35 minutes.
A milestone in the era of mutual cooperation with other countries
In a major move aimed at cooperation between the two giant railway systems of the world, namely Indian Railways and Chinese Railways, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Beijing during the Prime Minister’s visit to China in January 2008. The MoU envisages development of rail related programmes of mutual interest, consultations, training and visits to each others’ countries. In the month of May 2008, a MoU was signed by Indian Railways and SNCF International (French Railways) for promoting bilateral cooperation in the rail sector. Cooperation between India and Malaysia in the rail transport sector reached new heights with the Government of Malaysia entrusting the mega project of electrified double tracking project between Seremban–Gemas (in Malaysia) to IRCON, a Public Sector Undertaking of the Ministry Railways in May 2008.
Enhancing efficiency and safety in train operations
In order to increase efficiency and enhance safety in train operations, modern signalling system with Route Relay/Panel/Electronic Interlocking along with Multi aspect colour light signalling in replacement of over-aged mechanical/multi cabin signalling system has been provided at 421 stations during the period January 2008 to November 2008. Auto signalling to increase line capacity has been provided on 236 Route Kilometres during January 2008 to November 2008. It has also been decided to provide Auto Signalling on all saturated high density sub urban routes. This will reduce dependence on human element & enhance safety.
Automatic clearance of Block section has been provided at 422 sections through use of axle counters and 349 Nos. of level crossing gates have been interlocked with signals during Jan’08 to Nov’08. Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) has been commissioned on Chennai Central – Gummidipundi suburban section (50 Route KMs) of Southern Railway in May’08 as a pilot project. This system prevents ‘Signal Passing at Danger’ cases and enforces implementations of speed restriction. Second pilot project of Train Protection Warning System on Delhi-Agra section of Northern/North Central Railway is under various stages of installations.
In order to facilitate prevention of trains’ collision, Anti-Collision Device (ACD) on Katihar-Guwhati-Dibrugarh-Ledo section of North-Frontier Railway is operational. Further, works for its provision on three Railways (Southern/South Central/South Western Railway) have been taken up and are targeted to be completed within next two years.
Connecting Northeastern state capitals with rail link
Taking another step towards Indian Railways’ avowed goal of connecting all Northeastern state capitals, the newly constructed Manu-Agartala railway line opened and introduced two daily train services to Agartala, capital of Tripura from 5th October 2008. While the first pair of trains run between Lumding and Agartala, the second pair runs between Silchar and Agartala. In addition, Bullet proof locomotives have been introduced on terror prone areas on Northeast Frontier Railway so as to boost the morale of the running staff for providing hassle free train service.
New Production Units in 11th Five Year Plan
Indian Railways have decided to set up new Production Units during the 11th Five Year Plan. These are; Wheel Manufacturing Plant at Chhapra with the production capacity of 1,00,000 wheels per year, Green Field Electric Locomotive Factory at Madhepura with the capacity of producing 120 electric locomotives per year, New Rail Coach Factory at Rae Bareilly with production target of 1000 coaches per year and Diesel Locomotive Manufacturing Unit at Marhowra with production capacity of 150 diesel locomotives per year. These Production Units will be set in joint venture with public private partnership.
In addition, while presenting the Railway Budget 2008-09, it has been announced that a new rail coach factory will be set up in the state of Kerala to meet the requirement of passenger coaches in the country.
Technological Up-gradation of Telecommunication Systems
To connect remote locations where cable connectivity is not possible, IR has set up and commissioned satellite communication technology based V-SAT network in current year. The hub of this network is commissioned at New Delhi which is connected to more than 200 remote locations for Freight Operation Information System (FOIS) applications. This network is also planned to be used for connectivity from disaster sites, for disaster management.
The trial on Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN) has been successfully completed by RDSO/Lucknow in coordination with IIT/Kanpur, which involves Real Time Train Tracking using GPS and Mobile (GSM) Technologies. This project envisages dissemination of Real Time Train Running Information through Internet, SMS and Display Boards at the stations and on trains. It is proposed to further implement the project over Indian Railways on all mail and express trains.
Railtel Corporation of India Ltd. (RCIL) was set up with the aim to modernize the telecommunication system of Indian Railways as well as earn revenues from the surplus capacity of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC). Railtel has earned Rs. 155 crore upto November 2008 which is higher by 44% over the corresponding year of last year. The earnings this year are more than Rs. 50 crore over the corresponding period of last year.
A total of 30,000 Route Kilometres OFC has been commissioned on Indian Railways. Work of upgradation of OFC network to high bandwidth STM-16 network is in full swing and has already been commissioned on all important routes totaling about 25000 RKMs. 204 important and 2935 other stations have been put on OFC network of Indian Railways.
Electrification of railway track
Indian Railways have setup a target for electrification of 1000 route kilometers during the current financial year. Today, on Indian Railways, 17811 route kilometers has already been electrified which constitute to 28 per cent of the total rail network and 36 per cent of the Broad Gauge route carrying nearly 65 per cent of freight and 50 per cent of passenger traffic. The electric traction is a cheaper option as about Rs. 4500 crore are spent on electric traction energy compared to Rs. 6200 crorre being spent on diesel. Indian Railways are working closely to ensure the completion of pending works of electrification so that its dependence on diesel which is largely imported, is reduced in the times to come.
Strengthening of security on Indian Railways
Ministry of Railways has taken several steps to strengthen its security setup. An integrated Security System is being implemented over stations (including sub-urban stations) of Metro cities of Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai and other 140 vulnerable/sensitive stations of Indian Railways. This system comprises of :- Internet protocol based CCTV system with video analytics ; Access control; Personal and baggage screening system; Explosive detection and disposal system.
On the recommendations of Norms Committee, which had been formed for fixing scales/norms for procurement of modern security related equipment, Ministry of Railways have allocated Rs. 60.76 crore for procurement of security equipment to be used by the Railways Protection Force(RPF). RPF has been upgraded with modern security gadgets like INSAS 5.57 mm rifles, AK-47, SLR 7.62mm, Carbine 9 mm, Pistol Auto 9mm, Bullet Proof Jackets and Helmets, Walkie-Talkie, Hand Held Metal Detectors, Door Frame Metal Detectors, Dog Squad etc.
For the convenience of railway users, initiative of ‘Mobile Helpline’ has been introduced during the year 2008. Vigilance officials are always available 24×7 on the Mobile Helpline No. 155210 on which railway passengers can lodge their complaints of bribery/corruption against railwaymen. Wherever possible, action is taken on real time basis for redressal of their grievances. From the feed-back received so far, the facility of Mobile Helpline can be considered to be a success.
Luxury trains to boost tourism
The Ministry of Railways has signed a MoU with the Government of Punjab state on 1st October 2008 for operation of a luxury tourist train. The luxury tourist train will cover the major tourist destinations of Punjab and North India including the golden triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
A luxury tourist train in association with Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation has been launched in Karnataka-Goa sector. The train was flagged off by Hon’ble President of India on 2nd February 2008 at Yashwantpur. The train brand named as ‘Golden Chariot’ is the fourth of its kind in the Indian Railways. The seven nights/eight days itinerary includes Bangalore-Mysore-Belur-Halebid-Shravanableagola-Hampi-Badami-Pattadakal-Goa-Bangaglore.
World Heritage Site
In its continuous signifying remarkable success, the Indian Railways added another feather in nation’s pride after getting recognition for its fourth railway site, Kalka-Shimla Mountain Railway as ‘World Heritage site’ The Kalka-Shimla Railway (KSR) has been described as one of the most Authentic Mountain Railways in the world. by UNESCO. The decision to add the Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge Railway to World Heritage site was taken at the meeting of UNESCO World Heritage Committee held in Quebec City, Canada, on 7th July 2008. The Kalka-Shimla Railway line was opened to traffic on 9th November, 1903. Indian Railways dedicated KSR as ‘World Heritage site’ to the nation at a ceremony held at Shimla on 9th November 2008.
World-class railway stations
In a bid to make Indian Railways the world’s No. 1 Railway network, the Committee on Infrastructure under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister has approved the proposal to develop New Delhi Railway Station as a world class station. The Ministry of Railways has decided to constitute a Core Group for monitoring of Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects related to development of 26 World Class Railway Stations across the country including New Delhi Railway Station. The tender process is underway for upgradation of initially four Railway Stations to world class level including New Delhi.
Dedicated Freight Corridor
After Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) presented the final study report on Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) to the Ministry of Railways, the work is in progress at various stages.. The DFC projects are the flagship projects of Indian Railways and are certainly one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the country. Railways have proposed a 2700 kilometre long railway line project (Eastern Corridor – 1279 kms. and Western corridor – 1483 Kms.) as an augmentation of capacity of Indian Railways network to handle the large increase in volume of traffic expected over the coming years. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has already given approval ‘in principle’ for the projects. Indian Railways have decided to upgrade the entire feeder routes of proposed Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) initially for 25 ton axle load and subsequently to 30 ton axle load. Four of these proposed feeder routes falling on Western Railway are Pipavav – Surendranagar – Viramgam – Mahesana, Viramgam – Samkhiali, Kandla Port – Gandhidham – Palanpur and Mundra Port – Gandhidham. The bridges falling on these feeder routes are also required to be upgraded for making them fit for 25/30 ton axle load train operation.
Coal transportation agreement
In a significant move at facilitating power generation in the country, Indian Railways signed a long term Coal Transportation Agreement M/s GVK Power (Goindwal Sahib) Ltd. for transportation of coal for 2X270 MW power plant at Goindwal Sahib in Tarantaran (Punjab) on 11th december 2008. The agreement assures the supply of coal to the power plant for a period of 25 years and provides for premium charges and penalty charges for both the parties. Ministry of Railways had already entered into similar agreements with M/s. Rosa Power Supply Co. Ltd. and M/s. Nagarjuna Power supply Co. Ltd. in 2007.
Highest bonus ever paid to employees
As a result of the overwhelming performance of the Indian Railways during the financial year 2007-08, the Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Railways for payment of Productivity Linked Bonus to the extent of 73 days wages for the financial year 2007-08. This payment benefited approximately 13.25 lakh non-gazetted eligible Railway employees.
Excellent achievements in sports
The first ever Railwayman winning an Olympic medal brought glory to India and to Indian Railways in particular. The Railwayman, Shri Sushil Kumar won Bronze medal in the Men’s freestyle 66-KG Wrestling at the Olympics – 2008 in Beijing. On this remarkable achievement, Shri Sushil Kumar was rewarded with a promotion to the post of Asstt. Commercial Manager from his present post as Chief Ticket Inspector and also a cash prize of Rs. 55 lakh.
The Indian Railways retained the title beating Delhi (25-16) in the women section while Indian Railways won the men’s title beating Services (28-25) in the 56th Senior National Kabaddi (Men &Women) Championship held in New Delhi from 11th to 14th October 2008. Shri Rakesh Kumar in men’s section and Ms. Mamta in women’s section both from the Indian Railways have been declared best players of this Championship.(CGS)