By H. C. Kunwar
In its endeavour to become an excellent rail transport network of the world, the Indian Railways during the year 2011-12 has helped launch itself towards a path of gigantic growth and development, keeping in view the future transportation needs of the economy like construction of 727 kilometres of new line, gauge conversion of 856 kilometres and doubling of 752 kilometres of Railway line besides improving punctuality by six per cent and improving safety by seven per cent. The year 2011-12 has been significant for the Railways in achieving goals and targets.
The total approximate earnings of Indian Railways on originating basis during the financial year 2011-12 were Rs. 104278.79 registering an increase of 10.15 per cent. The total goods earnings were Rs. 69675.97 crore during financial year 2011-12, registering an increase of 10.70 per cent. The total passenger revenue earnings during fiscal 2011-12 were Rs. 28645.52 crore, registering an increase of 10.15 per cent. Indian Railways have carried 969.78 million tonnes of revenue earning freight traffic during fiscal 2011-12 registering an increase of 5.24 per cent.
Fresh Measures to Prevent Misuse of Train Tickets
In a move to prevent misuse of Reserved Train Tickets and reduce cases of travelling on transferred tickets, the Ministry of Railways decided that anyone of the passengers undertaking journey in AC-3 tier, AC-2 tier, 1st AC, AC Chair Car and Executive Classes were to carry one of the nine prescribed proofs of identity (in original) during the journey. Meanwhile, Agents /Rail Travel Service Agencies (RTSAs) have been disallowed booking Tatkal tickets at the counters between 08.00 hrs. and 10.00 hrs. on the opening day of Tatkal Advance Reservation Facility for booking with train starting date. Moreover, Tatkal tickets booking are being booked only on production of self attested photocopy of one of the nine prescribed Identity cards as proof of identity.
SMS at Par with Ticket & Reservation Through Mobile Phone
In a move to further make Train Reservation Ticketing System passenger friendly, the Ministry of Railways has decided to permit Short Messaging Service (SMS) sent by its PSU, Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) containing vital details as an instrument on par with the Electronic Reservation Slip (ERS). This has come into effect from 1st February, 2012. The SMS would contain all the vital ticket details like PNR, Train Number, Date of Journey, Class, Name & Number of Passengers, Coach & Seat Number and Fare paid. Also if feasible, the SMS will accommodate the names of all passengers booked on the e-ticket, otherwise maximum number of passengers.
For the convenience of the rail users, Indian Railways through Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a Public Sector Undertaking under the Ministry of Railway, has started the service of booking e-ticket over the mobile phone. After initial registration and downloading of suitable software on the mobile handset with internet facility, it is quite easy for the mobile users to book a reserved ticket through their own mobile.
Real Train Information System Opened to Public
In a major passenger friendly move, Indian Railways opened the first phase of the Real Train Information System (RTIS) in October 2011 to public for accurate train tracking thus heralding a new era of application of advanced communication and information technologies in various Railway related activities. This new tracking system is based on Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN) and has been developed jointly by the Ministry of Railways’ Research arm namely Research, Design and Standards Organization (RDSO), Lucknow and IIT, Kanpur. This information is available on website “http://www.simran.in”. To begin with, at present, this service is available for six pairs of Rajdhani & Shatabdi trains and would be expanded further in due course of time.
Adarsh Station Scheme
A total of 929 stations have been identified during 2009-10 to 2012-13 for development under ‘Adarsh’ station scheme. A total of 550 stations have been developed under ‘Adarsh’ station scheme so far. Out of the remaining 370 stations, 295 stations are targeted for completion in 2012-13 and the remaining 84 stations, which were identified for development under this scheme during Railway Budget, are planned for completion in the next financial year. Adarsh Stations are provided with basic facilities such as drinking water, adequate toilets, catering services, waiting rooms and dormitories especially for lady passengers, better signage etc.
Developments on Dedicated Freight Corridor Project
The Dedicated Freight Corridor project will connect a land mass over 3300 kilometers in the country and could prove to be a backbone of India’s economic transport facility. The Western corridor from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Mumbai will be 1499 kilometers. The Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor from Ludhiana to Dankuni will be 1839 kilometer long. The nodal authority Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation India Limited (DFCCIL) is overseeing progress of work with the target project completion rate of March 2017. Presently, 67 per cent of the land acquisition has been completed and as of now the project by and large is on target. Funding has been tied up with the World Bank for 1183 km section of Eastern DFC from Khurja to Mughalsarai for US$ 2.72 billion in May 2011 and Loan Agreement for US$ 975 million for the first sector viz Kanpur-Khurja, (343 km) has been signed in October. 2011. Construction work of 54 major and important bridges in Vaiterna-Bharuch section of Western DFC is in progress and five major bridges have been completed.
Development of Multifunctional Complex
A new concept of development of Multi Functional Complexes (MFCs) with Budget Hotels, was introduced in Rail Budget 2009-10 so that important facilities may be available to the rail users in a separate complex in the vicinity of circulating area in station premises. So far, a total of 198 stations have been identified since 2009-10 (67 in 2009-10, 93 in 2010-11 and 38 in 2011-12). Task of development of 198 MFCs has been assigned to Zonal Railways and various executing agencies under the Ministry of Railways. Construction of MFCs has been completed at 24 stations. The progress of MFCs has been affected as long-term leasing of land now requires Cabinet’s approval. A Cabinet note, in this regard, is under process.
New Train on Longest Ever Route Flagged Off
“Vivek Express” on longest ever route from Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari covering a distance of 4286 kilometers was flagged off on 19th November, 2011. This weekly trains leaves Dibrugarh on every Saturday and reaches Kanyakumari on Wednesday. In return direction, it will leave Kanniyakumari on every Saturday at 14.00 hrs reaching Dibrugarh on Wednesday. It will run via Goalpara, New Bongaigaon, Alipurduar, Maldah Town, Durgapur, Asansol, Adra, Midnapur, Vijaywada, Jolapettai, Salem, Coimbatore, Ernakulam, Thiruvanantapuram & Kanyakumari.
Country’s First Ever AC Double Decker Train Flagged Off
Country’s first air conditioned superfast Double Decker train was flagged off from Howrah station for Dhanbad on 1st October 2011. This train will consist of 9 coaches including 7 air-conditioned Double Decker chair cars having 128 seats in each coach and 2 generator cars. This train will stop at Barddhaman, Durgapur, Asansol, Barakar and Kumardhubi on both ways en-route. This train will have maximum permissible speed of 110 kilometre per hour
Longest Tunnel Made Through Pir Panjal in Jammu & Kashmir
Indian Railways achieved another milestone with final breakthrough of Pir Panjal Railway tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir on 14th October 2011. This Tunnel with a length of 11.176 Kilometers is not only the longest Transportation Tunnel in the country but has also the highest point (1753 Meters above sea level) on Broad Gauge Railway System in the country.
Strengthening of Security at Railway Stations
Indian Railways are implementing Integrated Security System at 202 important and sensitive stations of the country in first phase. The system will likely become functional at all 202 stations during the current financial year. This system provides for multiple screening/checking of passengers right from the point of entry. The ‘Integrated Security System’, comprising of latest machines and software, will supplement conventional methods of security which are also being strengthened. There will be dedicated control rooms at strategic locations for round the clock monitoring through the Close Circuit TV (CCTV) based surveillance system.
Setting up of Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd Proposed
It has been decided to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) “Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd to meet the aspirations of rail users and to provide better passenger amenities & facilities at railway stations. This SPV will be constituted with equity participation of Ircon International Ltd. (IRCON), a Public Sector Undertaking under the Ministry of Railways and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), a statutory authority under the Ministry of Railways.
Electrification of Railway routes has yielded good results. During 2011-12, the target of 1110 route kilometres plus 220 track kilometres has been achieved. Railways have fixed an even higher target of 1500 route kilometres for the current year. By the end of XI Five Year Plan, the percentage of electrified network on Indian Railways is likely to go up to 34.61%. As on 01.04.2011, 21304 Route Kilometers (RKM) have been electrified. This constitutes 32.88% of Indian Railways network, hauling about 2/3rd freight and nearly half of passenger traffic.
In a significant move towards clean environment in platforms and railway tracks, Indian Railways has inducted biotoilets (green toilets) on certain trains. This type of toilets has been designed jointly by Indian Railways and DRDO. These biotoilets are well suited to unique requirement of Indian Railways passenger coaches. Eight trains are presentably running with approximately 500 biotoilets and the results are very encouraging. It is now planned that 2500 biotoilets will be inducted in the next year.
More Concession For Senior Citizens
The Ministry of Railways has decided to reduce the minimum age for availing concession from 60 years to 58 years in case for women senior citizens. It has also been decided to increase the element of concession in case of men senior citizens from 30 per cent to 40 per cent with effect 1st June 2011. Meanwhile, it has also been decided to grant concession in train fares to patients suffering’ from Sickle Cell Anaemia/Aplastic Anaemia, when travelling for treatment/periodical check-up to the Government recognized hospitals, and return after treatment/periodical check-up. The element of concession is 50 per cent in the basic fares of Sleeper, AC Chair Car, AC 3-tier and AC 2-tier classes.
MoUs with State Governments
The Ministry of Railways and State Government of Chhatisgarh signed an MoU on Development of Rail Corridors in Chhattisgarh. The Ministry of Railways and Government of Jharkhand State signed an MoU on ongoing Railway Projects in Jharkhand.
Indian Railway Finance Corporation Limited Offers Tax Free Bonds
Indian Railway Finance Corporation Limited (IRFC), the financing arm of Indian Railways, issued Tax Free, Secured, Redeemable, Non-Convertible Bonds of face value of Rs. 1,000 each in the nature of Debentures, having benefits under Section 10(15)(iv)(h) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, as amended (‘Bonds’) aggregating to Rs. 3,000 crore with an option to retain oversubscription of upto the shelf limit of` Rs. 6,300 crore (‘Issue’).
Railways Extend Advance Reservation Period to 120 Days
The Ministry of Railways increased the advance reservation period for booking reserved train tickets from 90 days to 120 days on experimental basis (excluding the date of journey) with effect from March 10, 2012.
Arrangements to Clear Extra Rush of Traffic for the Summer, April to June 2012
Indian Railways have made elaborate arrangements to clear extra rush of traffic for the ensuing summer season from April 2012 to June 2012. More than 5600 trips of special trains have been planned to handle the rush during the ensuing summer period. These special trains have been planned over approximately 44 different popular routes to clear extra rush of traffic.
High Level Committees
Safety in train operations is accorded the highest priority by Indian Railways and all measures are being taken on a continual basis to prevent accidents and enhance safety. A High Level Safety Review Committee, headed by Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission submitted its report suggesting a significant road map on safety related issues. In addition, to give further impetus to Railways’ modernization plans, an Expert Group constituted under the Chairmanship of Mr. Sam Pitroda also submitted its report recommending ways and means to modernize Indian Railways.
India and Bangladesh Constitute Joint Group
The Governments of India and Bangladesh constituted an Empowered Joint Group to suggest measures to ease travel by Maitree Express, the direct passenger carrying train between Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka, introduced in April, 2008. Both sides agreed that Maitree Express is a symbol of people to people connectivity and the deep abiding friendship between the two countries. To make this bi-weekly train more popular, the Empowered Joint Group decided that they would formulate certain short term, medium term and long term measures to ease the travel by this train.
(Author is Deputy Director (Media & Communication), Ministry of Railways, India)