Four coaches of Patna-Mokama passenger train completely gutted in fire

Four coaches and an engine of the Patna-Mokama passenger train caught fire on the intervening night between Tuesday and Wednesday morning. The incident happened around 1 am when railway staff spotted the fire in one of the coaches. The train reached Mokam railway station at 10:30 pm.

The train was stationed at Mokama railway yard, 90 Kilometers east of Patna when the incident occurred. The railways employees, local GRP and RPF rushed to the spot to contain the fire but unfortunately, the fire spread to other coaches being completely gutted.

According to sources, at the time of the incident, the train was supposed to be moved to the yard for cleaning.

The railways spokesperson said the fire did not hamper the daily train services in the sector. The Divisional Railway Manager is currently assessing the situation. He also said the fire has been brought under control and there had luckily been no casualties. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Chairman of the Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani told Press Trust of India that train accidents had decreased by 40-45%. With hope to reduce them even further, Mr. Lohani stated that the prime focus this year was to address safety, maintenance and cleanliness of trains and railway premises.

m-Aadhar a prescribed ID proof- Rail Ministry

A sigh of relief came for people travelling through trains when the railway ministry on Wednesday declared to permit m-Aadhaar that is, Aadhaar card on mobile applications, as one of the proposed proofs of identity for travellers in any reserved class.

An official release quoted, “m-Aadhaar when shown by the passenger on his/her mobile after entering the password should be accepted as proof of identity for undertaking a journey in any reserved class over Indian Railways.

m-Aadhaar is an application launched by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Using this application on their mobile phone, a person can download his/her Aadhaar card. This process can be done on the mobile number linked to a person’s Aadhar card. After which, the traveller can open the application and enter his/her password to show this identity proof, reported ANI.

This application and its process will help a person secure their private information and travel with ease without the fear of losing their Aadhaar card which has become an important identity proof currently.

News Source: Business Standard, ANI

Image Source: India.com

Railway food not fit for human consumption: CAG

An annual audit report compiled by the Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG) has declared the food served in the railways and stations across India as “unsuitable for human consumption”.

After numerous complaints from passengers over the years, it is finally official that there are serious hygiene issues in regards to contaminated food, unauthorised brands of water bottles and packaged food items that are way beyond shelf life.

The audit has put the entire blame on the Railway Ministry for its frequent and unnecessary change in policies that has created a state of uncertainty in the management of catering services, reports TOI.

Screen grab of complaints.
Screen grab of complaints.

The team inspected 74 stations and 80 trains and concluded that the standards of cleanliness and hygiene were way below par at all catering units; the inspection reveals that unfiltered tap water was used to prepare beverages, waste bins were not covered and cleaned and food was being kept in places infested with cockroaches and flies.

The CAG also cracked down on the scam of overcharging passengers for food and beverages. It observed that the caterers did not provide menu cards and food was also served below prescribed quantity.

The report also thrashed the Integral Coach Factory located in Perumbar stating that the policy of progressive switch over from gas burners to electric power equipment in pantry cars to avoid the occurrence of fire accidents in trains was not followed while manufacturing the pantry cars.

News Source: TOI, News18

Image source: Indian Railways 

India’s first solar powered railway unit launched

The Indian Railways launched the first 1600 HP solar powered Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train on Friday. This first of its kind unit was launched by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. The launch happened at Safdarjung Railway station in New Delhi.

The Indian Express reported that this development happened due to the solar mission to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The solar power loaded unit was at the Shakurbasti shed. The shed has provisioned a dual fuel system in 16 of 1400 HP driving power cars. Prabhu in his Railway Budget this year mentioned about the plan to generate 1000 megawatts solar power in the next five years. Jackson Engineers Limited, a Noida based firm has been entrusted the responsibility to provide solar panels for such coaches to be used for the pilot projects in Chennai and Amritsar.

The Economic Times informs that the train is scheduled to journey from Sarai Rohila in New Delhi to Farukh Nagar in Haryana. The train has a total of 16 solar panels. These panels produce 300 watts of power individually and are fitted on six coaches. These panels cost Rs 54 lakh and are manufactured through the “Make in India” initiative. It can travel for 72 hours with the help of its power back-up battery.

 

Sources: Indian Express, Economic Times
Image Source: Indian Express Photo by Abhinav Saha

 

Railway hikes passenger fares in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto.

In a bold move, the Railway Ministry has brought in a reform to increase the fare prices of the Duronto, Rajdhani and Shatabdi express trains. Even after the hike, the railway is still the cheapest mode of travel for a common man. The decision has been made on the model of dynamic fare system in vogue in the aviation sector. The flexi fare system will be introduced in the II AC, III AC, Chair Car in the three trains where the 10 per cent of the seats will be sold in the normal fare in the beginning but it will go on increasing by every 10 per cent with every 10 per cent berths sold with a maximum cap of 50 per cent. The I AC and the Executive Class has not been included in this system because of the already prevailing high fares. The sleeper class will also be charged in the Duronto Trains. While the maximum hike for II AC and Chair Car will be 50 per cent, for III AC, it will be 40 per cent. The Ministry targets to earn Rs. 500 crore from 42 Rajdhani, 46 Shatabdi and 54 Duronto trains by introducing the flexi fare system. It targets to achieve Rs. 51,000 crores of revenue which is passenger induced in contrast to the Rs. 45,000 crore in the last fiscal year, an increase of Rs. 6000 crore in 2016-17. There will be hardly any difficulty for the common man to avail to the railway services as the majority of the population use the unreserved segment where there is no price hike. The aforementioned train mostly cater to the high-end category of the passenger segment and comprises of a small segment of the population.A price hike in the railway was much needed as the carrier service had been facing losses in the passenger segment. As mentioned by Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha in the Lok Sabha inApril, the total loss incurred by the Ministry in the passenger segment was Rs. 33,490.95 crore in the financial year 2015. While railways’ primary mandate is to make cheaper travelling possible for the common man, it is in the interest of the public that railways remain operationally viable to stay here for long.

Railways to withdraw discounts for elderly on AC- I

In a recent move, the railways are seeking an option of withdrawing concessions that it offers to a host of individuals, including senior citizens, who travel by AC first class coaches. The AC-I tickets coming at 50% discount for elderly might see a major change after the withdrawal.

The proposal will be discussed ahead of the rail budget and will be taken forward after approval of the political leadership. The proposal was stated after the need to improve earnings, faced with an acute fund crunch and demand for massive investment to fix infrastructure in the state transportation arised.

The railways drops a fair amount of nearly Rs 1,400 crore annually by providing concessional tickets to 53 categories, including disabled, artists, sportsmen, war-widows, doctors, senior citizens and journalists.

As per sources, the railways were looking at the option of withdrawing discounts for several categories of people travelling in AC first class. There is no information to disband discounts for other classes of railways given the political implications.

Travelling by AC first class sometimes become more expensive than the travels by air but with the discount, senior citizens took to train travel in the premium class at least for overnight and short journeys. Making it a convenient deal for the seniors, with the discount, the fare is marginally higher than AC-II tier.

 

Source: TOI

Tripura awaits upcoming Railway Budget, expects Superfast Trains

As the Railway Budget is to be presented in the Parliament at the end of this month, there is a surge of hope amongst the people of Tripura as they are expecting the introduction of the super-fast trains. The trains if introduced in the North-Eastern state will run from the capital city of Agartala.

The state is also hopeful of receiving funds for the Bangladesh Project connecting Tripura and Bangladesh.

People from interior landlocked parts of Tripura have to travel some 600 kms for almost 24 hours on the hilly national highway 44  to reach Guwahati, Assam. Guwahati is the closest railway station for the Tripurites. The other option that is available in the hilly terrains is to travel by expensive air service.

The local people are also hopeful of a possible rail link between India and Bangladesh which will work from Agartala to Akhaura in Bangladesh. This could become a reality only if the funds are allocated for this project in the current budget.

Furthermore, with the conversion of the meter gauge to broad gauge, people look forward to having few super-fast express trains like Rajdhani, connecting the state with New Delhi and at least two direct trains every week to Kolkata.  Not only will the connectivity improve in these parts of the country but basic facilities like medical emergencies will also be met.

CEO NFR S I Garur said, “Whatever our projects are going on adequate funds will be ensured and new projects will come up. New trains will be there definitely for Agartala will the commissioning of this project. New trains will be introduced from Agartala.”

The trial runs have been conducted on these converted lines in the state. Currently the southernmost city of Subroom and Akhaura (in Bangladesh) are in the process of conversion.

Source: ANI

Business Standard