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   Indian railways rise in passenger fare 
  New Delhi, October 17, 2013 (PTI): Passengers will have to shell out more for travelling in Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains from Thursday as Railways has increased catering charges in these premier trains by about two to four per cent. The revision in food tariff, which is included in the total fare in premier trains, also comes with a revised menu.
  This is the second hike for premier service passengers in the last 10 days as Railways had hiked passenger fares by two per cent for all trains effective from October 7 by linking the fare structure with the fuel adjustment component. Those who have purchased tickets earlier will have to pay the difference in the fare to TTEs in trains from October 17, a senior Railway Ministry official said. 
  The second class AC fare from here to Thiruvananthapuram will now cost Rs 4,289 instead of Rs 3,980 while in the Madras Rajdhani, the existing fare of Rs 3,285 for Chennai has been increased to Rs 3,385.The catering charge in premier trains has been increased after 14 years, as it was last revised in 1999. 
  According to the revised fare, a passenger will have to pay Rs 2,510 instead of Rs 2,435 for AC II ticket in Mumbai Rajdhani. In Howrah Rajdhani, the AC II fare has been increased from Rs 2,490 to Rs 2,554. The tariff has been hiked by Rs 14 only, from here to Bhubaneswar in Bhubaneswar Rajdhani but in the return journey, a passenger will have to
pay Rs 87 more than previous fare.

   The Indian Railways will soon be using natural gas 
New Delhi, October 3, 2013 (IANS): The Indian Railways will soon be using natural gas instead of diesel to power its locomotives, Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said Thursday. "The Indian Railways proposes to utilise natural gas as fuel for its fleet of diesel locomotives in line with the international trend," Kharge said.
  "This will have a substantial effect on reducing the emission of carbon and in making the railway system environment-friendly," he added. Speaking at the inauguration of the 10th edition of the International Rail Exhibition and Conference organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Kharge said that considerable work was being done to develop highly fuel-efficient diesel locomotives.
  He emphasized that during the 12th Plan period, there would be continuous effort to add new routes, augment capacity on existing routes, and invest in terminals etc. "We plan to add 4,000 km of new lines besides over 7,500 km of doubling, 5,500 km of gauge conversion and 6,500 km of electrification," he said.
  "The Railways plans to procure over a lakh wagons, 24,000 coaches and nearly 4000 locomotives," he added. The minister pointed out that in the last decade, number of accidents per million train kilometers have reduced from 0.44 in 2003-04 to 0.13 in 2012-13.

   Indian Railways Running 1400 Coaches with Bio-Toilets
New Delhi, August 30, 2013: Indian Railways at present is running 1400 coaches with 3800 bio-toilets in various trains. In the first four months of the current year, Indian Railways have fitted more bio-toilets on coaches than the entire number of bio-toilets fitted in the past three years. The first train, Gwalior-Varanasi Bundelkhand Express, fitted with bio-toilets is running since January 2011. 
   After receiving encouraging feedback from the users and railway maintenance staff, the pace of fitment of these bio-toilets in Indian Railways passenger coaches has been ramped up. In its endeavour to take all necessary steps to keep station premises clean, Indian Railways is now manufacturing all new conventional passenger coaches fitted with bio- toilets. These bio-toilets are fitted below the coach floor underneath the lavatories and the human waste discharged into them is acted upon by a colony of anaerobic bacteria that convert human waste mainly into water and small amount of gases (methane and CO2). The gases escape into atmosphere and waste is discharged after chlorination onto the track. Human waste thus does not fall on the railway track. 
  This environment friendly, low cost and robust technology has been developed jointly by Indian Railways and Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) for railway passenger coaches and is the first of its kind in Railway Systems in the world. 

   Train accident in Bihar kills 37 people
August 19, 2013: At least 37 people have died after being hit by an express train while crossing the tracks at a remote train station in the Indian state of Bihar, local officials say. The passengers, mostly Hindu pilgrims, had just alighted from a local train at Dhamara Ghat station and were on their way to a temple in Saharsa district.
   An angry crowd is said to have beaten the driver and set two coaches on fire. Rescue operations are under way and police reinforcements have been sent. Senior state police officer SK Bhardwaj said it was difficult to say how many people had died as many bodies had been dismembered. The incident took place at 08:40 India time. The pilgrims were hit by the Rajya Rani Express travelling on the opposite track.
   Railway officials said the express train was travelling at high speed as it was not expected to stop at Dhamara Ghat station. But after the accident, it stopped a few hundred metres away. An angry mob then pulled out the driver and severely assaulted him. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the incident and ordered district officials to the scene. Source:

   Railways plans captive nuclear plants to cut rising fuel bill
NEW DELHI, July 30, 2013: Reeling under financial stress, railways is planning to set up captive nuclear power plants which will help the national transporter cut its fuel bill substantially and contribute to energy security. "We are in talks with Nuclear Power Corporation to set up power plants at existing nuclear sites," Kul Bhushan, member (electrical), railway board, said.
  The transporter will soon sign an MoU with the government PSU and is also exploring some options in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.The move is part of the strategy by railways, the country's largest high speed diesel consumer, to revisit its energy consumption considering recent hikes in diesel price for bulk users. Railways spent Rs 8,000 crore on electricity in 2012-13, while its diesel bill was around Rs 15,000 crore.
  However, in terms of productivity, the larger share of work is done by electric locomotives. Around 65% of freight and 50% of passenger traffic is carried using such locomotives. Railways is expecting to operationalize the first phase of its captive power plant at Nabi Nagar in Bihar in May 2014. "The 1000MW plant will be full operational by March 2015," Kul Bhushan said. From the present level of 3,000MW of peak requirement, it is estimated that the demand for electricity over the next 10 years will be nearly 5,000MW. "These plants will bring down the cost at which electricity is available to us," Kul Bhushan said. "The plan is to ensure cost-effective and environment-friendly solution for rail transport," he said. Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA 

   Bhilai Steel Plant develops advanced rails for Indian Railways

   Bhilai, July 18, 2013: Indian Railways is to receive its first consignment of advanced 'switch point rails' for deployment in its network. This will help Railways' modernize its track  for coping with increased speed and heavier axle loads. The first lot of these indigenously developed specialized rails known as 'thick web asymmetric rails', was dispatched by Steel Authority of India's Bhilai Steel Plant on Saturday.
  Utilised at the 'crossover point' in railway tracks, these rails have so far been completely imported since virtually none of the domestic steel companies produce it commercially. Globally too, only a few of the top steel producers including Corus, UK and a few in Austria and France produce it.
  "We have developed the capability to supply the entire requirement of Indian Railways for such kind of rails," R K Sinha, general manager Rail & Structural Mill, Bhilai Steel Plant said. Indian Railways have projected a yearly demand of 10,000 tonnes for these switch rails. "These rails are critically important since it will help us plan increase in traffic loads and speeds," a Railways' official said. 
  Indian Railways is one of the biggest customers of SAIL. And BSP is the country's sole supplier of rails, including long rails in lengths of 130 and 260 metre. The Railways had thus entrusted BSP with the task of forging one end of these thick web rails to enable its joining with stock rails in 2006. Source: The Economic Times

  Indian Railways headed for first indefinite strike in October
NEW DELHI, July 3, 2013: India's largest employer, the Indian Railways , is headed for its first indefinite strike in 39 years. The railways' largest employee union - the All India Railwaymen's Federation (AIRF) - has issued a call to its 1.4 million workers to strike work, kicking off a process that could bring the utility to a halt by October this year.
  AIRF general secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra told ET that railway workers have lost patience with the government, which has been backtracking on several commitments made in the past. "We believe in industrial peace, but since we are not considered relevant by the government of the day, we have been forced to show our relevance by resorting to an indefinite strike," Mishra said, stressing that railway-men were not looking for some new sops, but wanted the Centre to stick to its past promises relating to the Pay Commission
  The last railways strike was led by George Fernandes as the AIRF leader in 1974, following which the government declared a state of emergency. Over the next fortnight, AIRF president Umraomal Purohit will engage with other union leaders and set the ball rolling for the strike. Orchestrating a strike in the railways is a time-consuming exercise and may take about three months to kick off. Source: The Economic Times

  Indian Railways Revises Ticket Refund Rules
New Delhi, June 27, 2013: The Ministry of Railways revised and amended ticket refund rules on Tuesday, which will be effective from 1 July. Accordingly, passengers need to cancel their confirmed tickets 48 hours ahead of the journey instead of the existing 24 hours to get maximum refund on the travel charges.
  "Railway Passengers (Cancellation of ticket and Refund of fare) Rules, 1998 have not been substantially revised in the last 15 years during which period a large number of changes have taken place in the ticketing system of Indian Railways," the ministry said in a statement. According to the revised rules, if a confirmed ticket is cancelled between 48 hours and upto six hours before the departure of the train as against the existing 24 hours and upto four hours, passengers will get a refund with cancellation charges of 25 percent of the fare. The ministry decided to revise the rules in an attempt to prevent booking  agents from selling tickets at higher prices as well as to give more time for waitlisted passengers to decide about taking their trip, reported The Times of India. 

   Mallikarjun Kharge new railways minister

   NEW DELHI, June 18, 2013: In the reshuffle and expansion of the Union council of ministers, Mallikarjun Kharge was on Monday made the railways minister as eight more were inducted with veterans Sis Ram Ola and Oscar Fernandes making a comeback.
  After yesterday's reshuffle in the party, senior woman leader from election-bound Rajasthan Girija Vyas and K S Rao from Andhra Pradesh were brought in as Cabinet ministers in today's exercise which was an all-Congress affair.
  Three new faces - Santosh Chowdhury, J D Seelam and E N S Nachiappan were made ministers of state along with veteran Maharashtra leader Manikrao Gavit. With the fresh inductions, the strength of the Union council of ministers has gone up to 77. The oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers was administered by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan attended by vice-president Hamid Ansari , Prime Minister Manmohan Singh , Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and union ministers among others. 71-year-old Kharge, who missed out in the chief ministerial race in Karnataka last month, has been compensated with the heavyweight Railway portfolio after being shifted from labour and employment.

   Indian Railways runs train through Asia's second longest tunnel
   Srinagar, June 10, 2013: Finally, history was made on Friday as the trial run of the country's longest railway tunnel, Pir Panjal tunnel, was conducted smoothly. The train covered the 11 km distance in 20 minutes. It took 30 minutes to cover the entire distance of 17.5 km from Qazigund to Banihal.
   The trial had to be postponed on Thursday following protest by locals on railway tracks. They were demanding a railway station in the village. The tunnel (11.215 km), which connects Bichleri Valley of Banihal with Qazigund area of Kashmir Valley, is the India's first longest transport tunnel and Asia's second longest tunnel. 6.5 km long Karbude tunnel of the Konkan railway was India's longest tunnel so far. While the longest tunnel in Asia is Wushaoling tunnel (20 km) in Gansu, China
  "The Pir Panjal railway tunnel is a vital link connecting Udhampur to Baramulla. Train passengers in the Kashmir Valley can soon travel up to Banihal with the completion of the Qazigund-Banihal section which also comprises Pir Panjal railway tunnel," said Sharanappa Yalal, project manager of Pir Panjal Tunnel project of Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) Ltd. The tunnel will reduce distance between Banihal and Qazigund, which is also one of the most treacherous stretches in the entire Kashmir rail network project, from 35 km by road to 17.5 km on train. Source: India Today

   High-speed trains in India
   Bullet train
June 3, 2013: To operating high-speed trains France companies compete to supply a range of transport technologies and services to India. The public sector French train operator, SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français), is emphatic that the possibility of using high-speed trains as mass carriers should not be neglected.
  The competition for high-speed rail also involves Korea, China, and Spain which have operational technologies. Brazil is also looking to implement high-speed rail, but has specified that only accident-free systems can submit tenders, reducing China’s prospects.
  The focal point of the Indian effort is the Mumbai-Ahmedabad section, for which SNCF is conducting a feasibility study, and for which the French government has contributed €600,000 out of the estimated total cost of €1 million; there is no charge to the Indian Railways.
  The study, begun in January, is expected to go on for a year and define high-speed for India (which in France is 320 km per hour for TGV trains); what kind of fares people can be charged; benchmarking of finance practices including public private partnerships; and the roadmap for manpower training. Source: The Hindu

   Railways off the track
New Delhi, May 16, 2013: CP Joshi’s stop-gap return to the Rail Bhawan following Pawan Kumar Bansal’s controversial exit has unravelled the key infrastructure ministry’s woes. The first and foremost challenge for a new minister would be to impart a sense of direction and purpose to a ministry that has become a bait in the coalition era. The pursuit of unabashed populism has come at the cost of railway’s modernisation plans and neglect of passenger safety.
  For starters, the ministry has suffered severely due to change of guard in the last four years. The rail ministry has already seen four full time ministers in the last four years along with CP Joshi’s two stints
as a stop-gap arrangement including the latest. With an impending Cabinet reshuffle, the rail ministry may well end up seeing seven ministers in five years surpassing the record of 1967 Indira Gandhi regime that saw the key infrastructure portfolio changing hands six times. 
  The latest change of guard has affected when Indian Railways was gearing to transform itself into a dynamic mode of public transport. Post-1995, the ministry of railways has more or less become a bargaining chip for coalition governments. Whether it was the National Democratic Alliance or the UPA, Railways became bait to please allies. Run like personal fiefdoms, the regional partners, in turn, have used the Railways to pursue their short-term electoral agenda. Each time a regional satrap becomes a railway minister, a new crop of trains are launched, and the region to which the minister belongs, becomes a favoured destination. Source: Zee News

  The railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has resigned from his post      
NEW DELHI, May 12, 2013: Beleaguered railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has resigned from his post on Friday. Having seen four changes in 14 months, the coveted post of Railways  Minister became the most volatile ministerial berth in UPA-II as Pawan Kumar Bansal put in his papers amid pressure on Friday.
  All the four ministers had to let go of the job under controversial circumstances. It started in March 2012 with Trinamool Congress's Dinesh Trivedi quitting days after his Rail Budget in which he had spelled out some much-needed moves for reform, notably, a steep increase in passenger fares, which earned the ire of his predecessor and party chief Mamata Banerjee. Mamata's party MP Mukul Roy, took over soon after and rolled back all the reformist moves proposed by Trivedi's budget. But Roy's luck also ran out within months. In September 2012, Roy's run ended as Trinamool walked out of  UPA.
  The railway minister's nephew Vijay Singla has been arrested for allegedly trying to fix the promotion for a member in the railway board . Bansal's woes mounted when the CBI questioned his private secretary Rahul Bhandari, a 1997-batch IAS officer from Punjab cadre, in connection with the alleged Rs 10 crore bribery scandal. Bansal has denied any wrongdoing by him claiming that he has no business links with Si
ngla.   Shri C.P. Joshi was appointed as New Railway minister 0n Saturday. 
   Indian Railways Reduced the Advanced Booking Period of the Tickets to  60 Days
New Dlhi, May 03,013:The Indian Railways reduced the advanced booking period of the tickets from four months duration to two months, with effect from 1 May 2013. This has been done to prevent the enormous amount of cancellations after the booking process.
  The Railway notification issued on 25 April 2013 declared that the advance reservation period (ARP) in order to book the reserved train tickets was being reduced from 120 days to 60 days from 1 May 2013. It was also declared that the bookings which were done up to 30 April 2013 under already-existing ARP of 120 days will not be changed.
Railway officials believed that this action would help the genuine travellers and reduced touts that booked bulk tickets in advance. No change was introduced to ARP limit of 360 days for foreign tourists. Cancellation of booking which was made beyond the time duration of 60 days shall be permitted. At present, tatkal tickets are being issued
when a person produces self-attested photocopy of a valid identity proof. In order to monitor the tout, Railways conduct raids on the railway stations as well.

 Indian Railways to Offer Passengers Wake-Up Calls, Train Status Details
Newe Delhi, April 25, 2013: The railway network in collaboration with is planning to provide wake-up calls for passengers and services like alert messages to a passenger's phone about delay in trains. "We're looking at providing services like wake-up calls and informing passengers if there are any changes in the schedule of the train they are booked in like delays or cancellations through SMS or phone calls," said Manish Rathi, CEO and co-founder of Rail Yatri. "It can even be to alert someone on the position of a train so they can receive their family at the station on time."
  Besides this, the company is also prepping an app that allows passengers to make use of current services. The app is expected to launch in the coming months. "We are fine-tuning some features. We want to ensure it will work on all platforms including iPhones, Windows system and Blackberry," Rathi added.
  Earlier in 2012, Railway Information System (CRIS) in a tie-up with Rail Yatri has launched an online application, RailRadar, which tracks details of 6,500 trains running across the country on a real-time basis. The service enables the user to track train timings, locations, stoppages and routes. The service does not require the user to remember
the train number or name, as just the entry of two station names gives details. Source: Times of India

  Google doodle marks India's first passenger train journey's 160th anniversary
April 16, 2013: India's first passenger train journey is the subject of Tuesday's Google doodle. The day marks 160 years since the a passenger train set out on its maiden journey in India. The history of rail transport in India goes all the way back to 1832, when a plan for a rail system in India was first put forward. The first rail line in the Indian sub-continent came up near Chintadripet Bridge (in modern-day Chennai) in 1836 as an "experimental line". In 1837, a 5.6 km long rail line was established between Red Hills and the stone quarries near St. Thomas Mount.
   However, it wasn't until 1853-54, when two new railway companies, Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR) and East Indian Railway (EIR), were created, that the railways as we known it today began to take shape. GIPR was asked to setup near Mumbai, and EIR was to setup a railway line near Kolkata (Calcutta at the time). Thus, the first train in India became operational on 22 December 1851 for localised hauling of canal construction material in Roorkee. 16 April 1853 was the historic date when India's first passenger train journey took place between Bori Bunder in Mumbai and Thane. Covering a distance of 34 kilometres, it was hauled by three locomotives, Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan. The Google doodle celebrates the 160th anniversary of this journey - rather inaccurately some might say - by depicting a single steam engine lugging a train towards the reader. The front part of the engine form
the first 'O' in Google. Source: NDTV

  One killed, 33 injured in rail derailment near Arakkonam 
Chennai, April 10 2013 (PTI): One person was killed and 33 others injured when 11 bogies of Bangalore-bound Muzaffarpur- Yesvantpur Express derailed at Sitheri, about 90 km from here, early this morning. Vellore Superintendent of Police I Eswaran said one passenger was killed and 33 injured in the mishap. The injured have been admitted to the Government hospital at Arakkonam.
  The derailment occurred around 5.50 am, a Railway official said. Top officials of the Southern Railway visited the spot and commenced an initial probe into the cause of the derailment.Rail traffic on the Arakkonam sector was disrupted. Railways cancelled about seven trains, including those bound for Bangalore, and diverted some others.
  Railway officials have pressed several buses into service to ferry stranded passengers, while at least 200 travellers continued their onward journey to Bangalore by Guwahati Express. 
  The state-owned railway service operates 9,000 passenger trains and carries some 18 million passengers every day. Last year, railway officials said train accidents in India had killed 1,220 people over the past five years.

  Indian Railways to open all services for service tax registration
Mumbai, April 5, 2013: The Indian Railways has now relented and has agreed to open services other than ticketing, that are offered by its various arms, to service tax. The Central Railway and Western Railway are among the first to register for taxation, various service rendered under their arms.
  According to officials, railways offer various service apart from tickets, which are currently out of the tax net. These include restaurants on the platform or on railway premises, book shops, brokers and jobbers (For railway scrap auctions, renting out land, etc), services operating from space let out by the railways, among others. The additional cost will be passed on and consumers may have to pay more for the food items bought in the railway platform or even shoes polished by a shoesmith using space rented from the railways. Tickets and railway freight are already under the service tax net. Railways have been opposing the move to include non-ticketing and non-freight services till date. However, the railways relented after the finance ministry agreed to amend Section 99 of Indian Railways Act to provide exemption to Indian Railways with respect to taxable services prior to July 1, 2012.
   In fact, budget 2013-14 specified that exemption will be granted to the extent show cause notices have been issued up to February 20, 2012. Incidentally, as a friendly gesture, the finance ministry may delete the clause of show cause notice and its cut off date for extending exemption for 2012 cases in the final finance bill yet. This is being considered to facilitate all such cases where show cause notices have not been sent and investigation are underway to send notices in future. Thus exemption will be allowed even in cases where show cause notice has not been sent but investigations are underway. Source: Business Standard

  Train tickets, freight tariff to be costlier from April 1
NEW DELHI, April 1, 2013 (PTI): Travelling in trains is set to become costlier from today as the hike in reservation fee and superfast charges announced in the Rail Budget come into effect from April 1. Besides hike in passenger fares, freight rate for all commodities will also go up by about 5.7 per cent on Monday.
   The Railways expect to earn Rs 42,210 crore from passengers traffic and Rs 93,554 crore from goods transportation in 2013-14. Though the Railways have not increased basic passenger fare, it had proposed increase of the reservation fee, superfast and Tatkal charges. Cancellation and clerkage charges will also be hiked from April. While the cash-strapped Railways were expected to mop up about Rs 880 crore annually from the latest hike in service charges on train tickets, the freight rate revision will fetch Rs 4200 crores for the national transporter in the fiscal 2013-14.
   As per a Railway notification, while reservation fee for second and sleeper class has not been revised, AC classes will be dearer by Rs 15 to Rs 25 per ticket. Superfast charges have been increased by Rs 10 for sleeper and second class fare. For AC classes, the hike is between Rs 15 and Rs 25. There are more than two crore passengers travelling daily on about 11,000 trains in the country. Tatkal fee has been increased by 10 per cent of the basic fare for second class and 30 per cent for all other AC classes. While cancellation charges have been increased by Rs 10 to Rs 50 per ticket for confirmed tickets, clerkage charge for cancellation of waiting list and RAC tickets will be hiked by Rs 5 for sleeper class and Rs 10 for AC class.
  Cancellation and clerkage charges have been hiked to deter touts from booking bulk tickets in advance, a senior Railway Ministry official said. Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had effected the hike in the basic passenger fare by 21 per cent before the Rail Budget in January 22, this year. The hike in passenger fare was announced after 10 years as successive Railway Ministers during that period were not in favour of increasing fares. The cost of fuel and energy went up many times during that period and it was essential to hike the fares, said the official.

  An inspiring expo on Indian Railways
GUNTUR, March 18, 2013: A model of a mini electromagnetic railway engine greets the visitors as they step into the Railway Hall in Arundelpet where an exhibition tracing the evolution of Indian Railways from the days of British Raj to the modern times was inaugurated on Friday. Fascinating pictures of locos chugging away in some of the most picturesque settings of the country are on display. The electromagnetic train is the future train running on the principle of linear induction, says engineer Naga Raju. 
  A model of first steam locomotive, Fairy Queen is also displayed. The visitors are then offered a peak into the evolution of Indian Railways through a photo exhibition. Several interesting pictures are on the display. The iconic Churchgate railway station in Mumbai was captured in a lithe black and white photo in 1956 and so are the pictures of the first air conditioned coach. A picture of big blocks of ice being taken inside a compartment is amusing. Can anyone imagine that there were times when bulls were used to pull railway engine? It would be interesting to note that the first diesel loco chugged off in 1807. In 1931, the first electrical locomotive was run and it was interesting to
note that the first electrical locomotive between Vijayawada and Chennai was run in 1981.
   In addition to the pictures, a philatelic exhibition by superintendent of the Electrical Department and also secretary of Guntur District Philatelist and Numismatics society M.V.S. Prasad too was appealing. A rare collection of coins, currency and stamps associated with Railways all over the world are put on display by Mr. Prasad, which included a special commemorative stamp marking the 150 years of Indian Railways. A  Rs.100 special stamp on Mahatma Gandhi showing him spinning Khadi is also on display along with many other interesting stamps. Divisional Railway Manager, Guntur, N.K Prasad inaugurated the exhibition. Reena Prasad, president of Guntur branch of South Central Railway Women’s Welfare Organisation, was present. source: The Hindu

  Indian Railways sold 500,000 e-tickets in a single day

  New Delhi, March 7, 2013: The Indian Railways sold a record 500,000 passenger tickets online in a single day, and it expects this number to climb higher on the back of new technology upgrades. On March 1, Web site sales surpassed the previous high of 496,000 e-tickets sold on July 7, 2012, according to a report Monday in The Hindu Business Line, which quoted an official from the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
  The Indian Railways transported over 8 billion people--or more than 20 million passengers daily--and sold over US$5.5 billion of tickets to passengers its financial year 2012, according to the latest budget documents. Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal wants a greater share of sales to be transacted via the Web site, which had been criticized for its inability to handle large volumes. In a speech to parliament on February 26, when he revealed the Union Budget, Bansal outlined a number of technology initiatives to make it easier to ride trains. These include an online ticketing facility which operations will be extended to 23 hours a day, enabling e-tickets to be purchased via mobile phones, introducing an SMS alert service to notify commuters about the status and success of ticket reservations, and equipping more trains with the real-time information system (RTIS) to access information online.
  Further, a new next-generation ticketing system would be in place by the end of 2013, which will be able to sell 7,200 tickets per minute--over three times more than the peak load today--and support 120,000 simultaneous users, or three times the present capacity, Bansal said.

  IRCTC passes service tax on to passengers
Indore, March 04, 2013: From April the Indian Railways' online ticket booking portal IRCTC will start levying service tax on service charge for e-tickets booked through it. A letter to this effect was issued on February 27 by the railway ministry. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) had on January 31 sought permission to levy service tax, as applicable, on customers in addition to the existing service charge levied on booking of e-tickets. The ministry's letter says the "matter has been examined and the said proposal of IRCTC to transfer the liability incurred on account of imposition of service tax on the service charges levied by IRCTC to the customers has been agreed to". IRCTC sources said service tax would be levied from April 1. The IRCTC levies a service charge of Rs. 10 per e-ticket in case of sleeper class (SL) and second sitting and Rs. 20 per e-ticket in case of all other classes (1AC, 2AC, 3AC, CC, FC) irrespective of the number of passengers on an e-ticket.
  "It's going to be a very nominal hike - Rs. 1 for SL and Rs. 2 for AC classes," said Pradeep Kundu, PRO, IRCTC. "Till now, the IRCTC was bearing the cost of service tax but now it was decided to charge the same from passengers," he added. The IRCTC records a sale of around 4.5 lakh ticket a day, making it one of the largest e-commerce sites in the world. Nearly 12 lakh tickets are booked with Indian Railways every day. "The move is expected to give the IRCTC additional revenue of approximately Rs. six lakh per day," said Kundu. Source:Hindustan Times

   Railway budget 2013-14: 67 express trains, 26 passenger trains introduced
New Delhi, February 26, 2013:Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presents his maiden budget in Parliament. In the Railway budget 2013-14.  As many as 67 express trains and 26 passenger trains are being introduced this year. Besides, he proposed extension of as many as 57 trains and increasing the frequency of 24 trains.
 The Highlights of Railway budget are: Marginal increase in cance llation, reservation charges, 67 new express trains to be introduced; 27 passenger trains, 8 DEMUs. Allocation of Rs 1,000 crore each made for railway land development authority and railway station development authority. Railways set to enter 1 billion ton freight club of China, Russia and US Internet booking to be provided from 0030 hours to 2330 hours
  Internet booking to be strengthened with next-generation e-ticketing system to eliminate delays. Railways will use Aadhar data base for bookings and validation of passengers. Free wi-fi facility to be provided in select trains. Plan to allow e-ticketing via mobile phones. Aim to eliminate 31,846 level crossings. Identification of 104 stations for upgradation in places with more than one million population and of religious significance. Railways to set up six more Rail Neer bottling plants. Rs. 95,000 crore shortfall , meeting this shortfall will mean a paradigm shift. Rs one lakh crore to be raised from public—private partnership, Rs 1.05 lakh crore through internal resources in the 12th Plan, says Railway Minister P K Bansal.

   Indian Railways to equip trains with latest fire-fighting equipment
New Delhi, February 04 2013: In an effort to check the number of fire accidents on trains, Railways will soon equip pantry and power cars with latest fire suppression system including sprinklers. "Even though Railways uses fire retardant materials for furnishings in coaches, fire accidents on trains continue to be reported. Therefore, we have decided to further upgrade our preparedness for fire prevention and suppression," a senior Railway Ministry official said. As per the plan, the Rail Budget 2013-14 will have proposals for installing sprinklers in pantry and power cars in as many express and mail trains.
  While initial trials for fire and smoke detection system on LHB AC coaches have been completed, Railways has planned to provide such system on more rakes for extended field trials. "We are planning to provide latest technology fire suppression system on certain coaches including pantry cars and power cars which are more fire prone," said the official. Expressing concern over frequent incidents of fire mishap on trains, the Standing Committee on Railways has asked the state-owned enterprise to find methods with the help of technology and experts to prevent recurrence of such incidents. The parliamentary panel has also asked the national transporter to install automatic fire alarm system in all trains immediately.
  A sleeper coach of Tamil Nadu Express had caught fire on July 30 last year claiming 32 lives. In October 2012, a woman and child were killed when a coach of Falaknama passenger train caught fire. Recommending help of latest technology, the committee has asked the Railways to explore the possibility of adopting best practices in fire fighting exercise available in other countries. Source:

   As fuel prices rises, diesel railway engines to turn LNG
New Delhi, January 31, 2013: Faced with high fuel costs in running its fleet of diesel trains, the railways ministry — headed by Pawan Kumar Bansal — has initiated grand plans to retrofit diesel locomotives and make them run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), cutting fuel costs by as much as 40%. Losses of the Indian Railways from passenger services are estimated at Rs. 25,000 crore.
  Projected revenues of Rs.6,600 crore from this month's decision, hiking the prices of passenger tickets, have substantially been offset by the subsequent government's decision to hike diesel prices — which will drill a hole as big as Rs.4,000 crore in the railways' pockets. In his upcoming budget speech next month, Bansal is likely to elaborate on plans for inducting state-of-the-art technology to make Indian locomotives run on LNG. Canadian green engine maker Westport Innovations Inc has been roped in
by the Railways for technological support. "The Rail Design and Standards Organisation will soon conduct trials on 100 diesel locomotives. The trials will be completed within one year," a source said.
  The annual fuel bill of the Indian Railways adds up to Rs.14,000 crore for running approximately 4,000 diesel engines for mainline operations. Plans are being worked out envisage conversion of around 2,000 diesel engines over a five year period. One diesel engine annually burns 6 lakh litres of diesel at a cost of Rs.4 crore. In its lifetime of 36 years, the fuel bill of one locomotive works out to R144 crore — out of which R50 crore can be saved through an LNG retrofitted engine. Source: HindustanTimes

Buddhist train to arrive in Odisha on Januaray 22

   BHUBANESWAR, January 21, 2013: After missing the December date, the Mahapari Nirvan Express, aka Buddhist train, will finally reach Odisha on Tuesday. The train will carry 89 tourists, including some foreigners. The inter-state special train, which covers most parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, connecting several Buddhist sites, including Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Sarnath, Gorakhpur, Khushinagar, Gonda, Sravasti and Agra, would arrive at Haridaspur near Jajpur on Tuesday. The tourists would be taken on sightseeing to several Buddhist sites, including Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri near Jajpur in SUVs  arranged by the tourism department. Later, the visitors would take the road route to Dhauli peace pagoda in Bhubaneswar. "After the sightseeing, the tourists would start the return journey the same evening," tourism director H S Upadhyay said.
  The seven night-eight day package will culminate in Delhi on January 28. The last destination of the train will be Agra. Insufficient passengers booking had forced the tourism department and India Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of Indian Railways, to postpone the journey till January 20. The train left Delhi station on Sunday, where the tourists were greeted in a traditional style. "We put tilak on their foreheads and welcomed them with garlands. A culture troupe was sent from Odisha to see off the passengers in a musical way," Upadhyay said. Source: The Times of India
Train fares to be hiked from January 21: Railway minister
   NEW DELHI, January 9, 2013: The railway minister on Wednesday announced a hike in train fares ranging from 2 to 10 paise per kilometre, which will come into effect from midnight January 21. The sleeper class hike is 6 paise per kilometre. The hike in AC chair car is 10 paise per kilometre, AC III tier 10 paise per kilometre and first class is 3 paise per kilometre while AC 2 tier is 6 paise per kilometre.
  The price of train tickets had not been increased for a decade, railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said. The minister said the fares, which he described as modest and reasonable, will not be increased when the Railways Budget is presented. Last year, then railway minister Dinesh Trivedi had announced an increase in some train fares, a move which angered his party leader Mamata Banerjee. She had him dismissed, and the fare hike was not implemented. With the hike ,railways has finally bitten the bullet to come out of the fund crunch that has affected its operations and threatens to cripple its modernization and expansion plans.
  Earlier, Pawan Kumar Bansal asserted that people are ready to pay more in exchange for better and modernized services. "People are ready to pay. After all we have to modernize the railways," Bansal told TOI, emphasizing that it was time the transporter got realistic about its expenditure. He said that the cross-subsidization - a scheme where railways charge higher freight rates in order to keep the passenger fares low - has become unviable and railways can persist with it only at the cost of pricing them out of the goods transportation business. The minister said that besides other things, cross-subsidization, which has seen the railways steadily losing market share to road transporters, will result in clogged roads, higher transport cost for goods and higher pollution.
  "People also must understand this. We seek there cooperation since there is no increase in passenger fare for last 12 years. Though any increase in fare will pinch, it is obviously, but then we have to be realist in our approach. That is what I appeal to the people," said Bansal in a significant policy pitch weeks before he presents the last full rail budget under UPA-II. Source: The Times of India

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