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Central Railway brings relief to passengers, plans 24 new services on two lines

Currently, the CR operates 590 services on the Harbour line, 232 on the Trans Harbour line and 838 services on the Main line daily. Sources said that they are yet to decide the timetable for the same and that whether they would be immediately pushing the Bombardier rakes into the system. The officials said that they will hold a meeting soon wherein they will decide which rakes can be replaced and where additional services can be added.”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written ByShashank Rao <!–end of artlbotbor–>Monday 1 January 2018 1:15 ISTMust readMumbai fire: BMC carries out demolition drive against illegal structures in Kamala Mills areaKamala Mills fire: Escape to Nowhere<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>After facing a series of problems, the over 12 lakh commuters on the Harbour and Trans Harbour lines can finally expect some good news as the Central Railway (CR) plans to add 24 new services on the two lines which could also include Bombardier rakes that are being inducted into the CR system for the first time.This comes as a big respite to the commuters using the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Panvel (10 lakh daily) and Thane-Vashi (2 lakh daily) corridors. Sources said that with the four new Bombardier rakes coming in, not only will the commuters get newer rakes but also more services.Confirming the same, SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway said, “We will be introducing 24 new services on the Harbour line by the end of this month.”Currently, the CR operates 590 services on the Harbour line, 232 on the Trans Harbour line and 838 services on the Main line daily. Sources said that they are yet to decide the timetable for the same and that whether they would be immediately pushing the Bombardier rakes into the system. The officials said that they will hold a meeting soon wherein they will decide which rakes can be replaced and where additional services can be added.

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Western Railway faces real test as AC local runs up to Virar today

The Western Railway (WR) braces for a challenging first day of 2018 as it is the D-Day to operate the newly inaugurated air-conditioned local train up to Virar. On Sunday, WR officials were busy with the final checks of the AC locals as beginning Monday, the local will run for 60 kms.Over the past two days, the WR carried out basic maintenance checks and inspection in the AC rake. “Primary checks were carried out. The AC train will run on the Churchgate-Virar route as scheduled,” said Ravindra Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway.After its launch on December 25, up to December 29, the AC local ran six services daily which will be upped to 12 services from January 1. Of these, eight services will run the Churchgate-Virar stretch and the remaining on the Churchgate-Borivali route. As per the decided schedule for the AC local, authorities will operate one service each during the morning and evening peak hours.Initial runs from the last week have mostly received negative feedback from commuters owing to the high fares, while some are of the opinion that the AC local is eating into the regular train services. “By replacing the existing local train services on the Churchgate-Borivali route with the AC train, almost 50,000 people have been affected,” said passenger activist Anil Galgali. Authorities are even more concerned about reactions once the AC local runs up to Virar.”The Railways should have at least lowered the fares. Who will spend Rs 205 one way from Virar to Churchgate when a second class season pass can be bought in almost the same amount,” said A Parab, a resident of Virar.A monthly pass for the AC local from Churchgate to Virar will cost Rs 2,040, fortnightly Rs 1,555, and weekly Rs 1,070. The daily ticket up to Vasai and Bhayander will cost Rs 195 and Rs 175 respectively. Between Churchgate and Virar, the AC local will halt at Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali, Bhayander and Vasai. Similarly, three fast services will run between Churchgate and Borivali and the remaining one service will run as a slow service from Mahalaxmi to Borivali.AC LOCAL PERFORMANCE (DEC 25-29)Tickets sold 2037Passengers 6717Earnings Rs 4,14,053Without ticket cases 48

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It’s the coolest one

It was jugaad and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative that ensured India’s first AC local train’s cost was less than half to what it would have been if the Railways had decided to buy from open markets.Sources said that these rakes are retrofitted with different parts and assembled as one piece. And so the cost is so low. “In the open market, a single fully made AC coach would cost nothing less than Rs 10 crore. This is more than double the cost at which we have manufactured this AC rake,” said a Railways official on condition of anonymity.Under MUTP-3, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation will be procuring 564 AC coaches or 47 rakes of 12-car each for which tenders would be called soon. Sources said that these coaches will be more expensive than those which are being manufactured now.Despite there being 50-odd minor issues with the air-conditioned local train, the first day went smoothly. Over the next few days, railway authorities will be monitoring the social media to see how they can improve the experience for the Mumbai commuters.”We want Mumbaikars to tell us what changes they feel were necessary. They can tweet us, go to our website and give us a feedback,” said A K Gupta, General Manager, Western Railway.”This is a prototype rake and so it might have teething troubles but we are confident that people will have safe and smooth journey in it. We have addressed the issues and if in case anything arises then we will handle it. We shall iron out all those technical faults that we have encountered till now before introducing the next AC rake after 9 months,” Gupta said.Based on the feedback the WR receives from people and studying technical glitches that might arise while running of AC local; will the manufacture of second AC begin. These rakes are being manufactured by BHEL as part of 10 rakes that have been procured at Rs 54 crore per rake.COMMUTERS REVIEWI enjoyed the ride in the AC train but yes the fare needs to be lowered. The number of AC locals should also increase. The seats need to have cushions similar to those in first class compartments.Himmat Kholia, BorivaliWhen I read the papers, I immediately decided to take a ride in the AC train. By road takes a lot of time while local trains are crowded. So this would bring much required respite and comfort in travel.Jayraj Gajaria, KandivaliUsually I leave for work by 7.45 am to 8 am. So once the frequency of the AC train improves, I shall adjust my work time accordingly. This train was much required for a city like Mumbai.Dilip Khaire, AndheriToday being a holiday I had time in hand so I took this AC train ride for an experience. People and the railways should ensure that they keep this train clean as I found mosquitoes flying inside already.Suresh Kumar, Goregaon(Above) Interiors of the first AC local train and a look at the motorman’s cabin; (Below) A passenger enjoys the view on the AC local’s maiden trip

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Mumbai: Indian Railways flags off first AC local train, curious commuters throng station to get a glimpse

The first maiden run of AC local was witnessed by a huge crowd of curious commuters who had come to witness history being written in front of them. People hooted and whistled as the AC local arrived from Mahalaxmi car shed on to platform 8-9 of Borivali station on Monday.Many people were seen clicking pictures. There was a small function that was organised by the Western Railway at the station premises. People were seen buying tickets from the booking clerk for this AC rake. The train left sharp at 10.30 am from platform 8/9 of Borivali station in its maiden run for Churchgate. The train operated on the fast corridor between Borivali and Churchgate. The train which was packed with media personnel’s, commuters and Western railway officials and reached its destination at 11.15 am. Also readThis is how much travelling from Mumbai’s first AC local train will cost you monthlyDNA travelled in the AC locals maiden journey and spoke to commuters who were thrilled to travel on the first journey. P Jain resident of Borivali was excited to be on board the AC train. “The AC local train will be a boon for passengers. The fares are priced properly if you see private cab aggregators hefty fares. AC local train will be a good alternative”.Also readSpoiler alert: 50 things can go wrong with the first AC local in MumbaiGuardian minister Vinod Tawde also took the ride till Churchgate. It reached Churchgate at 11.15am after which it left for Borivali again as 11.21 am fast local.

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Spoiler alert: 50 things can go wrong with the first AC local

All may not be merry with the first air-conditioned local that is rolling onto the city’s suburban tracks on Christmas Day. The Western Railway officials have easily counted as many as 50 “small” hiccups with the rake that might lead to what is being dismissed as teething troubles. But compounded, some of these snags could become a prolonged rumbling strip for the AC service, DNA has learnt.Broadly, the problems relate to air conditioning, emergency halts, door closure, and machinery.These can affect the overall performance of the train and throw its schedule off-kilter.Senior railway officials said that two months ago, when the AC rake was being trialled, 80-odd problematic issues were recorded. But after Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced that the AC train would make its first full run on January 1, a series of meetings between different railway agencies and the manufacturer led to as many as 30 issues being resolved. But others remain.”These are small glitches that can cause a bigger problem at the time of running. The biggest fear is the coordinated opening and closing of the rake’s doors, and on the same side,” said a railway official on condition of anonymity.Even after a couple of months of fine-tuning, it isn’t certain how the doors would open.If the doors don’t close simultaneously or one faces an obstruction while closing, then the train won’t start. This could happen even if there’s a tiny pebble in the door ridge. In such cases, the motorman or the train guard would have to manually open and close the door.The Railway Board has issued a rider that if the portals malfunction, the AC services will be suspended.The next is the pulling of alarm-chains. Rail officials feel that the guard would have to alight and walk up to the coach from which the chain has been pulled, manually open the door, and press a button, which is inside the coach, to restart the train, which will be time-consuming. In the existing system, in case an alarm chain is pulled, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) or the stationmaster inspects the issue from outside.On an average, around 2-3 cases of alarm-chain pulling are reported every day from the tracks, which affects punctuality, as it takes 7-10 minutes to restart the train after the emergency brakes are hit.”What would happen if this occurs during peak hours? How will we manage?” asked a rail official.Also, initially, the AC would stop working at the time the door opens or closes, as electric supply could only support one of them. It continues to be a suspense if the supply knot has been ironed out.Finally, this prototype rake is retrofitted. The engines, coaches, motors, ACs, and the information display system have all been assembled. As such, there are bumps on the system. For instance, the software has to be fed with fresh information about station halts every time the train starts a journey. A mistake could delay the service and have a cascading effect on other services.BROAD ISSUESIf someone pulls the chain, the door will have to be opened from the outside of the coach Cooling may not be uniform in all coaches, could be too high/low Door closing might not be fully coordinated Station names have to be fed afresh into info display for each journey

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210 train services to be hit this X’mas weekend

Thirty years after the rail authorities proposed to connect Mumbai with Raigad through Seawoods-Uran Railway line; the Central Railway (CR) will kick off its first huge mega block this month. Ten lakh commuters on the Harbour line and 2 lakh commuters using the Trans-Harbour line will be affected by this super mega block as the authorities are expected to cancel around 210 train services between December 22-25. On December 14, the block carried out for carrying out this project-related work was delayed which disrupted services on Harbour line.During the next four days, the CR authorities will carry out work on the most crucial element of this 28-km suburban rail line during non-peak hours due to which 64 services will get cancelled.These cancellations will be mainly between Nerul-Panvel section on which on a regular day, 256 services ply on this route. “We will carry out work near Belapur station which is very crucial for this project,” said SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.On December 24, 12 services will be cancelled. During this period, Nerul station will remain affected which will also hit services on the Trans Harbour section towards Thane. Trains will, however, be available between Vashi and Thane during this period.Sources said that they are working on laying tracks on a new tunnel towards Kile station. The most important block would be from the night of December 24. Services will begin at 2 am and end at 3 pm on the day of Christmas when 124 services on Harbour line and 40 services on Trans Harbour section will be cancelled.CANCELLATIONSThese cancellations will be mainly between Nerul-Panvel section; 256 services ply on this route on a daily basis Trains will, however, be available between Vashi and Thane On December 25, 124 services on Harbour line and 40 services on Trans Harbour section will be cancelled.

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Wrong announcement irks Central Railway commuters

A wrong announcement made at Wadala station caused chaos on the Harbour line of Central Railway (CR) on Tuesday morning. Angry commuters pulled the chain to stop the train and started walking towards the motorman’s cabin to question this confusion. This comes a day after the Federation of Suburban Passenger Association submitted a letter to the CR asking them to run trains without any delay, else commuters would be forced to come on tracks, in protest.At around 10.30 am, a local train headed towards Navi Mumbai arrived at Wadala station on platform 1. Sources said that chaos erupted as an announcement at the platform indicated that that train was headed to Bandra. It was a Belapur-bound train that started from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). Commuters inside the coaches alighted and those going to Bandra boarded the train. “There was an announcement made before the train left Wadala station stating that the train was going to Belapur and not Bandra. But, it seems that commuters did not listen to the second announcement,” said a CR official. Irked by the chaos, commuters pulled the chain and the train stopped between Wadala and GTB Nagar. “The administration has failed to run the train services properly and there have been constant delays every day,” said Nandkumar Deshmukh, president, Federation of Suburban Passenger Association. Train services on the Harbour line were disrupted for 15-20 minutes.

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Cab drivers to approach Maha CM over parking space

Black and yellow taxi drivers in Mumbai are facing a tough time as parking spaces are vanishing in the city. So, taxi unions have decided that they will approach Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis with a blank cheque, asking him to fill in the desired amount to remove encroachments from parking stands designated for them.More than 27 lakh vehicles run on Mumbai roads and citizens find it difficult to find a space to park their vehicles. Many a times, they park their cars at the taxi stands. Over time, taxi unions have become desperate to revive stands that have either gone missing or have been encroached upon by private parking. The union claims that their taxi stands – which normally has a blue pole with a metal board showing a black taxi and number – have gone missing.”We will give a blank cheque to the Chief Minister’s office this week. The RTOs and traffic police authorities failed to clear them and the stands have disappeared,” said AL Quadros, leader, Mumbai Taximen’s Union.The union’s idea is that the authorities are not doing much on grounds that they do not have enough funds. The police said that they we following directives issued to them.”The taxi unions have been demanding additional taxi stands. We will follow the directions of the RTO and Transport department,” said Amitesh Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic).The taxi drivers say that other than private cars, there are also areas where illegal food stalls have taken over the cab stands. There are almost 1,400 taxi stands across Mumbai, of which 800 stands have vanished, they claim.The unions have also demanded for double parking, especially near commercial hubs and office districts during peak hours as their designated spaces have vanished.”We will have to check if the taxi union has given such a proposal ,” said S Pedamkar, RTO (Tardeo).Quadros said that over months, authorities have been making false promises as far as reviving taxi stands is concerned. At present, there are 55,000 black and yellow taxis officially registered at RTOs of Tardeo, Wadala and Andheri. However, of these around 48,000 ply everyday, while others are shut for some reason or other.

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Owing to inadequate number of GRP personnel, CR planning to reduce number of ladies coach during night

The Central Railway (CR) is contemplating reducing the number of ladies coach from five to three during night, due to lack of GRP personnel on duty. In a discussion note obtained, it has been mentioned that out of 6 ladies coaches in a normal train, one is automatically converted to a general compartment between 11.30pm to 7am. But due to lack of strength, the GRP has been able to allot only three constables leaving two coaches unmanned.The railway hopes by their decision women will travel in only three coaches between 11.30pm to 7am thereby fulfilling the need of having at least one GRP personnel in the remaining three coaches.An official from CR said, “Recently there have been instances where women safety was an issue. So in order to allow the GRP to properly guard the compartments, this idea is being mulled”.Out of the six women coaches, three are allotted to first-class passengers while three belong to second class travelers. The practice is to reduce the number of coaches by converting one of the first class to a general compartment between 11.30pm and 7am. But now railways is looking to reduce one more first class compartment as well as a second class coach

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Railways goes solar to power city’s commute on local trains

The Railways invariably warn commuters to not travel on rooftop of trains as the live overhead wires supply 25,000 volts for the locomotives to run. Besides these live wires, roofs over the platforms would now become a medium of electricity as the authorities are placing solar panels on them. The Indian Railways is aiming to save electricity bills to the tune of Rs 41,000 crore between 2015 and 2025 under the ‘Mission 41K’ scheme.These solar panels will have an installed capacity of 4,750kW or 4.7Mw of power. This amount of electricity is equivalent to the power used by floodlights at Wankhede stadium. The Western Railway (WR) has identified 23 locations on its Churchgate-Virar route, which also includes railway stations, for these panels. Sources in WR said there are seven railway stations (Mumbai Central, Lower Parel, Mahim, Khar Road, Andheri, Ram Mandir and Borivli) where solar panels would be fitted on the cover over platforms. The rest of the places include car sheds, rail administration and station buildings, workshops and yards.Of the total 4,750kW electricity expected to be generated, the solar panels at railway stations will generate 2,185kW and the rest would be from the other structures mentioned above. “The work of completing installation of solar panels at some of these locations is in progress. At Mumbai Central, panels have been installed on the roof of the passenger reservation system building,” said a WR official.It takes around 450-500Mw of electricity for running 240 rakes on both Western and Central Railway together in the city. “By installing solar panels, we expect to save around Rs 90,000 each day,” said a senior WR official.The WR intends to use solar power to electrify tube lights, fans, lighting at food stalls, passenger announcement systems and other ancillaries at the station premises. Those solar panels fitted at station buildings and car sheds will help the railways to power the lights, fans, air-conditioners and other electric components found in a building.

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Mumbai fog delays Central Railway services; commuters stage rail roko at Vasinad station

Commuters staged a rail roko at Vasind, a railway station on the outskirts of Mumbai that falls under the jurisdiction of the Central Railways. Vasind is on the Mumbai-CST to Kasara route and is the station before Asangaon.At 7 am on Saturday, angry commuters staged the protests over services getting delayed for over 45 minutes. The railway police managed to disperse the crowd by 8.15am or so and rail traffic resumed by 8.22am.The administration has blamed the dense fog for the delays. Sources said that the fog was so thick that visibility was less than 100 meters for the motormen manuerving these 270 meter long local trains.Also readSmog grips Mumbai; air quality reaches hazardous levels”If technical failures weren’t enough to hurt train services, now natural causes like fog are causing problems in train running. But in the end it is the common man who is suffering,” said Lata Argade, a resident of Dombivali.Since early morning when the trains first resumed, trains were running at slow speeds. People complained that between 6-7am barely two or three locals went by which were crowded as they were coming from Asangaon or Kasara stations. Moreover the commuters claimed that long distance trains were given first precedence over local trains.

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Trash to manure: Kandivli society shows how

Residential societies across the city should take a leaf out of Gokul Heaven Housing Society’s book in dealing with its own garbage. The society in Kandivli on Friday installed a three-tonne waste segregation machine to manage its own garbage.The society, located in Kandivli’s Thakur Complex, has spent Rs 8 lakh on the machine. While the price seems steep, it has turned out to be economic for the society that has 285 committee members of which each member contributes Rs 200 per month. This also includes maintenance cost of the machine.The machine was inaugurated by local MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar who said he would promote it in other societies in the locality as well.”Apart from the machine cost, there is expenditure on providing a separate shed for it, and providing underground electricity supply. So the approximate per month cost that a resident will bear would be Rs 200,” said R Sawant, secretary, Gokul Heaven Housing Society.The society generates around 100 kg of waste every day. The machine can churn out 30 kg of manure from the decomposed garbage. The manure will then be used by the society at its garden.

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Railways gangmen hold protest for your safety

The men who take care of Mumbai’s lifeline — the local trains — went on a dharna at Mumbai Central station outside Western Railway’s (WR) office on Friday to protest poor quality of work tools, lack of safety, inadequate pay and poor quarters. Easily identified by their bright orange shirts and khaki trousers, gangmen and trackmen walk along rail lines looking for anomalies on the tracks or malfunctions which could jeopardize the smooth working of the trains.The gangmen and trackmen of Western Railway are protesting inadequate facilities and poor quality of the equipment — such as hammers, tongs and even their uniform and boots — needed to maintain tracks.There were joined by railway staff belonging to Western Railway Employees Union (WREU), and raised 15-points of concern, which were submitted to railway authorities. They also protested poor salaries and bad infrastructure of their staff quarters.”The administration should have a standard of quality for the tools. Sometimes, they even break when the gangmen hit the tracks to rectify or repair them,” said J Bhosale, general secretary of WREU.The inability of gangmen and trackmen to carry out their tasks properly compromises safety of commuters as it could result in derailment, problems with signals and overhead cables. “They walk many kilometers every day, but their boots are of poor quality. At times, they are forced to even wear chappals,” adds Bhosale.The huts along the tracks, which are meant to store the heavy tools of trade, do not have electricity and water connection, and cannot be used to rest in. “The buildings leak and are in dilapidated condition,” said one gangman. “The contract with private hospitals for emergency treatments have also not been renewed.”Gangmen also risk their lives while on duty. Although there are no official numbers, it is estimated that at least 10 workers die at work each month across India. On Thursday, at a meeting with the Railway Board, workers unions demanded that gangmen be honoured when when they die in the line of duty, similar to military personnel. The body of the dead workers should be respectfully escorted to their homes.

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Mumbai: Check how much this Kandivali society shells out each month to maintain a waste segregation machine

A housing society in Mumbai’s Kandivali on Friday installed a three-tonne waste segregation machine to manage its own garbage.Gokul Heaven Society in Kandivali’s Thakur Complex has spent Rs 8 lakh on the machine. While the price seems steep, it has turned out to be economic for the society that has 285 committee members. Each member’s contribution of Rs 200 per month also includes maintenance of the machine.The plant can generate up to 30 kg manure for 100 kg garbage – DNA PhotoThe machine was inaugurated by local MLA Atul Bhatkalkar. Bhatkalkar then said that he will promote it at other societies in the locality as well.”Apart from the machine cost, there is expenditure on providing a separate shed for it, and providing underground electric supply. So the approximate per month cost that a resident will bear would be Rs 200,” said R Sawant, secretary, Gokul Heaven Housing Society.Each day the society generates around 100 kg of waste every day. The machine will churn out 30 kg of manure from the decomposed garbage. The manure will then be used by the society at its garden.

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Indian Railways ups crowd management game as Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s followers flock to city

Two months after Elphinstone Road stampede; the death anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar and cyclone Ockhi is testing the lessons learnt by the Indian Railways post the tragedy. Though the dangers of cyclone Ockhi causing any damage to city’s infrastructure or lives seem to have ceased, handling lakhs of followers of Dr Ambedkar is surely a huge task at hand for the Indian Railways.Wednesday is the 61st death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar — social reformist, economist and jurist — for which lakhs of people come to Shivaji Park to pay homage. These people are coming in large numbers from various parts of the state and neighbouring states too for whom, long distance and suburban local trains are the best mode of transportation.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Rain spoils Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar followers visit”Ever since the stampede occurred, we have also decided to include crowd management to be vital for commuter’s safety. This is the reason foot overbridges have now become a matter of safety than a passenger amenity and so more FOBs have been planned,” said a senior railway official.Since the past two days, the presence of RPF staff at prominent stations like Dadar, Malad, Borivali, Kurla LTT, Churchgate, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus has increased. The Maharashtra Security Force too is helping with 250 personnel coming in for assisting the railway police.Also readPrime Minister Narendra Modi pays tributes to BR AmbedkarThe followers are seen sitting, sleeping or staying back on station premises along with their luggage. They are also blocking the pathway to staircases of FOBs. So continuous announcements are being made urging people not to wait at the station premises and move towards Shivaji Park. The BEST Undertaking is running shuttle services from various stations to Shivaji Park as well. Posters and banners indicating directions to the followers are also seen. The ticket checkers are barely seen while trains are halting for more time at selective stations to assist people. No doubt, a lot has improved in terms of managing over crowded stations since the tragedy at Elphinstone Road struck. But sadly it took 23 people to lose their lives for the railways to take crowd management seriously.
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Mumbai: Metal rods found on Harbour line train tracks interrupting peak hour commute

On Monday morning, trains on Harbour line were affected after metal rods were found on tracks. There were three huge metal rods – which has a quadrangular base on one end – found lying on the rail track and across the sleepers. This could have surely proven dangerous for trains, as worse come to worse, it could have resulted in derailment too.This incident came to light at around 7.30 am when the motorman of a local train, heading towards Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, saw these three long metal rods lying on tracks. It could have easily hit the wheels and base of the train, which could have resulted in derailment.The train was near Masjid station and was heading for CSMT when this incident occurred. The motorman then picked up these three rods and took it to CSMT. It was kept outside the motorman chamber at the concourse of the station.In January this year, 380 kgs and seven meters long metal rod was kept on rail track blocking the entire line, at Diva. Five people were later arrested for the offence by the railway police. Services on Western Railway were also affected between 8-8.30 am due to a case of trespassing accident at Vile Parle. Due to this, trains ran almost 20 minutes late during morning peak hours.
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Rlys revives plan to take Harbour route till Borivli

The space constraint in Mumbai, could force the railways to either build an elevated rail line or elevate the existing road outside Malad station on the west for ensuring that the Harbour line is extended all the way till Borivli. The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has revived the old plan of extending the Harbour line further from Andheri to Borivli, which it had first proposed in 2007.DNA had on November 30 reported on the proposed extension of Harbour line till Borivali – Railways plan to integrate big-ticket projects; elevated corridor may go.By end of this month, the MRVC intends to extend the Harbour line till Goregaon, which will mean that people boarding trains from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) can now go till Goregaon. At present the authorities are working on the basic plan on how to extend the Harbour line till Borivli. “There is no land available at Malad and it is too congested on the west side as the station immediately opens up onto shops and the road,” said a MRVC official on condition of anonymity.This is the reason they are contemplating two things — either take the rail tracks at an elevation as the Harbour line approaches Malad with road going below it. Or ask the civic authorities to remove encroachments, shift shops and allow rail tracks to go all the way towards Kandivli. The officials said that the road can then be taken as a flyover for the vehicles to pass. At Thane, similar exercise has been done as the authorities have implemented Station Area Traffic Improvement Scheme where the railway officials claim that there was sufficient space available for them. However at Malad there is space constraint for an elaborate elevated road to be constructed and that they will have to work out a proper plan.The railway planners stated that at Kandivali, there is space available on the west for the platforms to come up for the Harbour line. At Borivali station, the platform 1-2 can be used for the purpose of terminating trains on Harbour line. Once the Harbour line gets extended till Borivali it would mean that there would slow and fast corridors with two lines each, and at the same time work on 5th and 6th lines – meant for long distance trains – are also underway.The cost of this Harbour line extension till Borivali is yet to be calculated.Currently if a commuter wants to travel on the Harbour line to Navi Mumbai then he either changes at Wadala or catches a train that is going towards Panvel. However the number of trains on Panvel-Andheri/Bandra route is lesser in numbers. At present there are three different rail lines on the Mumbai suburban network – Western Railway runs train services on Churchgate-Dahanu route, Main line on CSMT-Karjat/Kasara and Harbour line on CSMT-Andheri/Panvel that is operated by the Central Railway.ELEVATED ROUTEUnder the plan, authorities will explore building either an elevated rail line or elevate the existing road outside Malad station, where space is a huge constraint
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Law on EVs must change

The Electricity Act 2003 needs to be amended before electric vehicles can be manufactured in large scale. This is what the transport, power experts and incumbent and former government officials were of the view at a closed door meeting held on December 1 in Mumbai. The need has arose as the existing charging stations meant for electric vehicles (EVs) are levying around Rs 14 per unit which these experts feel that it should ideally be Rs 6-7 per unit. This comes at a time when air pollution has become a big issue — Delhi is the perfect example of what air pollution has done to the city. Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) has introduced four electric buses which are operational in its fleet since November 11. On Friday, a closed door meeting to study the future of EVs took place at Ruia College in Matunga. “There is a need to create a new slab in the tariff structure especially for charging EVs. At present commercial rates are being charged, which is proving costly. The rates can easily be around Rs 6-7 per unit. For this amendment in the Electricity Act is needed and being thought about,” said V Sonavane, former Member, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission.
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110 years on, CR shuts toy train loop line

After 110 years, the Central Railway (CR) has shut down the ‘bulb loop line’ at Matheran yard which until 2016 was used to get the toy train back on the line. This loop line is shaped like a bulb where the toy train, after it terminates at Matheran, goes all the way till this yard and comes back on to the platform. The authorities will also resume the entire 21-km Neral-Matheran route from March 2018.This has been the method which the CR had been using to operate the toy trains since 1907 when it was first introduced. This was the same year when the yard was also created. The decision was taken now in October when the CR resumed toy trains on the 2.7-km-long Aman Lodge-Matheran stretch.”We have started push and pull engines for running the services. Now the old system of bulb loop line will be shut,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, CR.In push and pull method, there shall be six coaches with two engines fitted on either side. So there is no need for the train to use the bulb loop line that was operational till May 2016, when two back to back derailments occurred.Presently, there are two locomotives and 24 coaches that are operational. One new engine is being manufactured at Parel workshop which will be ready by January next year; they don’t have any engines on standby.KNOW IT ALL1907: Year the toy train startedRs 18 crore: Cost of reviving the Neral-Matheran toy train21 km: Length of the entire route2.75 km: Current distance of Aman Lodge-Matheran that is operational
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Come Jan, more rakes to chug on city’s local lines

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Newer trains can be expected by Mumbaikars starting January next year. Orders have been placed for getting more trains that would ply both on Central and Western Railways. This was one of the subjects which were discussed at the meeting between Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and railway officers when he visited Mumbai on November 27.To begin with, the Central Railway (CR) will get 20 new Bombardier rakes in phases, which is already being manufactured. “Orders have already been placed and we shall start getting them from January 2018. Once they arrive, they will be available for plying and would replace the existing old lot of rakes that are part of our fleet,” said a senior CR official. They are getting the new rakes for the purpose of operating on the Rs 1,700 crore Seawoods-Uran rail line.The CR has 14 old rakes of BHEL make which are always a cause of concern for the authorities as these incur technical failures frequently.

New safety concern crops up at Currey Road FOB

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Indian Railways, Army and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are struggling to acquire 180 sq metres of land for constructing a foot overbridge (FOB) at Currey Road station, there is a bigger safety problem that the Central Railway (CR) is grappling with. The problem came to notice on Monday when Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal visited Currey Road station to inspect the work on the FOB.Over the past few months, the CR authorities began constructing the second FOB at Currey Road station and in the past few weeks they have built the staircases on both sides of the platform. The work on the elevated portion of the FOB that extends on the east till the platform, too has been started. They painted this structure in silver, but put granite tiles on the stairs just a couple of days before Goyal was to visit the station.There are two landings — one towards Dadar and the other towards Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus — where the staircases are there. However, there is an issue with the landing of the staircase towards the CSMT-end as they end straight on to a cemented and tiled seat. This has a metal pole holding the roof and people often sit there while waiting for the train. The gap is barely of 3-4 feet, which is insufficient considering the huge number of commuters.”We have examined this and it is an additional landing. We are finding out solutions keeping in view the requirement of cover over platforms for the passengers,” said SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has stressed on ensuring safety of commuters at railway stations and its premises. Even the multi-disciplinary audit team in its report has stated the need to remove all obstructions near the landing of FOBs across the suburban stations in Mumbai.MINISTER’S WORDOn Monday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal visited Currey Road station to inspect the progress. He later agreed that there are some issues with the availability of land that is being sorted out.

Mumbai: Train services briefly disrupted on Harbour line, confused passengers come down on tracks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after railway minister Piyush Goyal inspected Mumbai suburban system, two separate incidents on Tuesday disrupted morning peak hours on Central Railway. Due to the cold weather, yet another rail fracture took place in the morning hours on the Harbour line.A rail fracture was found between Chunabhatti and GTB Nagar stations which led to stoppage of trains. This incident happened around 8.30 am after which crowds swelled at stations on the Harbour line.”The trains were running late by 15-20 minutes and so there was lot of crowd at the platform and inside trains,” said A Bhosale, a resident of Vashi.
ALSO READ Rly Min Piyush Goyal proposes global transport museum at CSMTThe CR authorities said that the fracture was rectified by replacing the track by 8.56 am. Many disgruntled commuters also took the social media platforms for pointing out the technical failure.”During winters due to the sudden change in temperatures, cases of rail fractures occur,” said a CR official. Couple of days back there was rail fracture near Sion and Matunga stations on CR which led to delays. Apart from this rail commuters came down on tracks at Asangaon station at around 8.30am. The CR officials said that it was not a rail roko but confusion whether a long distance train or local train would leave the platform first. “The station master was asked to announce that local train would depart first which was standing next to the long distance train,” said J Vishe, a resident of Asangaon. People assumed that as usual the long distance train will be given first preference and so in order to trespass, they stood on tracks without realising that the local train standing on the same track was supposed to leave first. Finally the train services resumed by 8.45am.

Union Railway Minister wants railway to learn from Army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal wants railway engineers from all 17 Indian Railway zones to visit Mumbai to see the work done by the Indian Army in constructing Foot-Over-Bridges (FOB) at Elphinstone Road, Currey Road and Ambivili stations, once completed. The minister wants the railway engineers to learn how to carry out work in crisis situations and under time constraints. “I have ordered that railway staff, especially from the engineering department from all 17 zones across Indian Railways will learn how to work under challenging circumstances. I have asked them to visit the three sites and learn from it once the work on FOB is ready,” said Goyal.The minister said this after inspecting the work on the foot-over-bridge that the Army is constructing at Elphinstone Road, following the stampede on an FOB at the station. Goyal said the reason he involved the Army is because he wanted to show the railway engineers how to tackle emergency situations. “The railways depend on contractors as they do not have their own manpower, unlike the Army,” added Goyal. The FOBs at all three locations are expected to be ready before the January 31 deadline set. The Army is expected to start work at Elphinstone on extending the FOB connecting Parel and Elphinstone Road stations by December 5, by when the girders will come in and shall be stored at the Kalyan carshed. Work on an entirely new 12-meter wide FOB connecting the two stations too will also begin soon, for which tendering and designing work is complete.Meanwhile work on an additional staircase on the FOB at Elphinstone Road, on which 23 people lost lives is already underway. They have placed metal sheet on which stairs will be built. “It will be widened and made ready by December 31,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway.The elevated booking office there too will be demolished. Out of the five ticket windows, four have been shut down, three ATVMs have been made available and porta cabins allotted below for issuing local train tickets.The Army has assigned one platoon – comprising 50 army men – at each of the three stations of Elphinstone Road, Currey Road and Ambivali for carrying out the construction work. At Currey Road, there is a 180 sq meters plot belonging to a private owner who has not transferred it to the Army, BMC or Railways for carrying out work on the FOB. The cost of this land is around Rs 4 crore, that shall be given to the private company who owns it. Goyal, who visited Elphinstone Road and Currey Road stations on Monday afternoon, asked the authorities to buy out a MHADA building outside Currey Road station so that the plot can be taken over for landing of the FOB that will be constructed. The minister also wants the Railways and BMC to connect the FOBs with skywalks for faster access.

Remembering 26/11: When the past is always present

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>November is the cruellest month for the Omble family. This year will be the ninth in a row that Vaishali Omble, her mother Tarabai, and sister Bharti will not have stepped out of their home on 26/11. And each year, the family recalls the horror that changed their lives forever.This, after all, is the family of Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble without whose sacrifice Ajmal Kasab would never have been captured and brought to justice.They say the belongings of the braveheart– who was honoured posthumously with the Ashok Chakra gallantry award – have not been moved an inch, let alone any changes done to the interiors of their Worli home. Everything is in the same place as it was nine years ago when the family last met him. Once in a while, they go to see the bust of Tukaram Omble at Girgaum Chowpatty.”Our lives have changed since the terror attack and it will never be the same again,” Vaishali Omble told DNA.To make ends meet, she gives private tuitions to students in their schools and colleges, and teaches children in Class 9-11. “I don’t want to work anywhere out and I feel this is the best I want to offer to society by teaching children. I also oversee the operations of a CNG station given to us by the government, against which we get monthly fixed remuneration,” she said.Her sister Bharti works in a clerical position with the government.This family is also in touch with other families of policemen who lost their lives on that fateful day.”Whenever there is a terror attack, we see people talking about it on television. But only those who have actually lost someone in such attacks understand how difficult it is to recover,” said Vaishali.THE MAN WHO CAUGHT KASABOn the night of November 26, Ajmal Kasab fired a volley of bullets into Tukaram Omble who was on duty at a nakabandi on Girgaum Chowpatty. Despite this, Omble grabbed Kasab and didn’t let go. His daredevilry made it possible for the police to overpower Kasab, who was the only terrorist from the attack to be apprehended and brought to justice.

362 buses to go off roads soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Do not be surprised if you find lesser buses on road in the coming days. The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking will scrap 362 buses in 2017-18 which shall curtail the total fleet to 3,337 by March 2018 from the existing 3,750. The BEST is already under financial trouble with heavy losses on its heads, plus the total number of daily passengers has dropped to 30 lakh and the undertaking is finding it difficult to attract people who are using share-taxis and autorickshaws.With deficit hitting Rs 880 crore for the year 2018-19, the BEST cut down the procurement of 303 new buses from Tata to 185. This curtailment was due to the heavy cost of Rs 100 crore which was being paid by the BMC. The BEST recently added six electric buses at cost the of Rs 10 crore to their fleet which is running on short routes.”The turnout of buses has dropped considerably and the fleet is unable to complete 22-24 per cent of the daily kilometres. The main reasons are absenteeism of drivers and conductors and traffic jams wherein buses get stuck on road and thus these buses are stuck inside depots,” said S Kavtankar, member, BEST committee.Another reason why existing buses are stuck inside depots is because the electronic ticket issuing machines are not working. Several machines out of the 9,000 are lying in depots as they have reached their codal lives. The demand for buses have dropped with Metro and Monorail coming up.

Mumbai: Central Railway replaces 6.2 km of tracks during mega block

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Safe travel is a right of every passenger. Now safety of rail assets is finally being given some attention by the Indian Railways, which was in the backburner. For instance, on Sunday, the Central Railway replaced 6.2 km of tracks during the mega block between Thane-Vashi and Thane-Mulund sections. These tracks had become unsafe for trains to ply as it’s condition has deteriorated. In this year itself, there have been several derailments and accidents across Indian Railways; one of the primary reasons being the poor quality of tracks. The railway officials agree that underinvestment in rail infrastructure, poor maintenance and excessive traffic has deteriorated the condition of these tracks. AT A GLANCEMajor Derailments In 2017DescriptionUtkal Express derailment, Aug 18, 2017 Meerut-Lucknow Rajya Rani Express derailment, April 15, 2017 Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailment, Jan 22, 2017 Kalindi Express derailment, Feb 20, 2017 ​The life of a rail track depends on the frequency of train movement and its tonnage capacity (load-bearing capacity that coaches carry). In Mumbai, the rail tracks are normally replaced after 1-2 years due to heavy usage while in the interiors where train movement is less, the replacement is done after 10 years too. “The railway ministry has specifically asked all the zones to address safety issues which also includes replacement of old and worn out tracks. Work on new rail lines has been kept on hold and the same tracks have been diverted to rail stretches that need immediate attention,” said a senior railway official.On November 19, near about 300 labourers were deployed for this work. “The rail replacement is done usually on those which have outlived its codal life and on condition basis of rail. However, this is record progress of rail renewal in a single block,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, Central Railway. These rails came from Bhilai steel plant as 24 panels of 260 meters long each, ferried in a rake. These were inserted in place of old rails during the mega block. The CR officials expect that it would improve safety as the track related technical glitches will definitely reduce.

Passenger’s death forces frugal CR to restart ambulance service

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The railways has claimed that each ambulance outside stations costs the state government Rs 2 lakh a month, which was why they were removed from stations like Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT). The Central Railway (CR) is now not only getting more ambulances but is also setting up emergency medical rooms at railway stations.The decision comes after a November 12 incident, when a passenger died while he was waiting to board 12542 LTT-Gorakhpur Superfast Express from Kurla LTT.Sources said that the 108 ambulance service was removed from outside the Kurla LTT railway station in September, as it was simply stationed outside the station premises along with a doctor and there already was another ambulance at the station.”We were informed that around Rs 2 lakh was spent each month on an ambulance provided outside railway stations, which was paid by the state government,” said a Central Railway official.However, after the death of a passenger Abdul Ansari (45) earlier last week, the Central Railway authorities asked the state Health department to provide more ambulances outside stations.”However, no provision has been made for an ambulance yet. Work on the FOB and an escalator is underway at the Kurla LTT, but proper barricading has not been done, putting commuters’ lives at risk,” said Ajay Bose, an RTI activist.There are currently nine ambulances for CR suburban stations.”We are procuring additional ambulances and even setting up emergency medical rooms (EMRs) at railway stations. In fact, at Kurla LTT, the EMR will be ready by November end,” said SK Jain, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.Around 30 more ambulances are expected to be deployed at various railway stations, while in the next few months, there will be at least 26 EMRs on the suburban system. At present, there are 14 EMRs operational, 16 more will be added, according to railway officials. The tender process has begun, but the railways is finding it difficult to get contractors interested in setting up EMRs, they noted.The reason for the poor response is that doctors are kept engaged for 7-8 hours of work-time while they get to attend to accident cases. People also go to them with basic ailments like cough and cold. To address this problem, the Western Railway has decided to allow doctors to practise at these EMRs, where they can treat regular patients for a nominal fee. The railways is also considering setting up of pharmacies at the same locations.”It is the state health department’s job to provide ambulances. We have been requesting them to provide it at all suburban stations as per a High Court directive. We don’t want to withdraw it. It is to be ensured by them (state government),” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, Central Railway.LIFE LOSTOn Nov 12, passenger Abdul Ansari, who was waiting at Kurla LTT to board LTT-Gorakhpur Superfast Express, collapsed. He was reportedly moved from Kurla LTT after an hour

Mumbaikars can soon use one card for any mode of transport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first step towards a single travel card for all modes of transport, starting with the lifeline, — the local trains of Mumbai — has been taken. In the first phase, railways will issue smart cards, which can operate in local trains and BEST buses, to at least 49 lakh season pass holders in the city. Around 75 lakh commuters use the Mumbai suburban system daily.This is the second attempt of the government to provide single smart cards for all modes of transport; it was first conceived in 2006 and implemented in 2007 as ‘Go Mumbai’ card. But the scheme was scrapped in 2010.At a November 14 meeting to discuss the modalities of the project, with the World Bank sought the details of the Integrated Transport System from the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC). “We are also having a series of meeting with the Railway Board as well. If they approve it, we shall call for tenders within two months,” said an MRVC official, on condition of anonymity.The series of meetings are important for the approval of the new form of ticketing that will cover all modes of public transport catering to over 1.25 crore Mumbaikars everyday. These are the people who use local trains, BEST buses, Metro and Monorails and mobile aggregator taxis. Those travelling by suburban trains will be the first to adapt to this new system.On August 2, DNA had reported about the plan. Senior railway officials said that they were looking at linking these Smart Cards with Aadhar card so that all details of the person using it were in place. This will also link these Smart Cards to bank accounts via Aadhar.”We are thinking of levying a refundable security deposit of Rs 50 against each card. There will not be any charge for the card,” said another official.At the same time, authorities also intend to target 10 lakh commuters who form around 15 per cent of the total lot who buy daily tickets. Initially, the ticket checking staff – close to 700 TCs on both Western and Central Railways – will be given hand-held devices to check the validity of smart cards. The checking system will be the same, but unlike checking physical printed season pass now, they will check the validity on the device.If a user wants to use the same card on routes that are not part of the Season passes, then more money needs to be added to the card. This way, not only can a commuter use it to travel on other routes on the suburban system but also use it on Metro rail and BEST buses. At present, there are ATVM smart cards that people use to get a physical copy of railway ticket from machines, while bus conductors inside BEST tap the smart card to check the balance available inside it. On the Metro rail, a passenger is allowed to travel on negative balance the first time, but before starting the next journey, money needs to be added into the card.Meanwhile, in the second phase, card-tapping devices shall be placed at the stations, which will taken almost 8-10 years for it to come. Gradually by then, they will also want daily users to switch over to this Integrated Transport System. “Around the same time, we will begin gating the entrance and exit points at stations,” said the official.This system will be such that people need to tap on the card reading machine at the entrance and move forward. The entry and exit points will be bifurcated for each platform. When a commuter enters the station premises, he simply needs to tap the Smart Card. The gate shall remain open all the while and shall close only if there is insufficient balance in the card or has been wrongly swiped. The railways wants to ensure that every gate that leads to the platform is thoroughly covered and there is single entry and exit points that will be used.TRAVEL SMARTMumbai Rail Vikas Corporation is taking the single card project forward along with MMRDA and BEST.
In the first phase, MRVC will target 65% season pass holders of suburban trains.

Rlys starts removal of food stalls from Mumbai Central

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railways have started demolishing the food stalls that had mushroomed on the foot over bridges on Thursday. The work kicked off from Mumbai Central station. Authorities have said they will identify more such locations at every station and remove all commercial hubs from the region.One of the food stalls on platforms 1-2 was demolished on November 16 at Mumbai Central station. The stall was barely yards away from the FOB staircase landing. Such structures could lead to hazards, officials said.”We are taking steps as per the report prepared by the multi-disciplinary committee, which has asked to ease congestion,” said a WR official.The stalls will also be removed from Churchgate. There are three departmental stalls that need to be relocated from Marine Lines and Charni Road stations. At Marine Lines, there is a catering stall at the south of platform 1. It has to be shifted to the north. There are catering units on platforms 2 and 3, which, too, need to be removed from Charni Road station. This is causing infringement for smooth flow of train commuters. According to sources, there is a significant change of policy to create more space on platforms. Extra food stalls that are hindering the movement of people will be removed.

Mumbai: Central and Western Railway make haste to finish work on foot overbridges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sadly it took 23 people’s lives at the Elphinstone Road stampede for the railways to change their method of functionality. Both Central and Western Railways are busy competing on who has completed formalities on tender process and shall finish work on foot overbridges faster. The CR will build a new FOB at Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) while WR will construct one at Bhayandar.The Central Railway is claiming to have created a record in finalising tender in 24 hours for a new FOB at Kurla LTT and that work commenced on November 16. “Finalising of contract for a new FOB has been done in a record 24 hours and work has commenced without delay. The tender for the construction of this FOB opened on November 14 and was finalised on the same day,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, Central Railway. The officials said that the acceptance letter was issued and physically handed over to the contractor immediately. This new FOB will be constructed at the CSMT end of the station near the new station building of Kurla LTT. It will be 6 meters wide and will have a double span of 18 meters each which will connect all 5 platforms. The new FOB will have ramps on all platforms at one end and stairs 2.50 meters wide on the other end. The cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 2.97 crore and is likely to be completed within 6 months.Similarly, the WR has finalised and awarded a contract within 7 days for the construction of a new FOB at Bhayandar station. This FOB – that is on the north side of the station – will be 10 meters wide, in lieu of old one that is 2.5 meters wide. Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway said: “A tender for this FOB was opened on November 7, at a cost of Rs 5.46 crores and was finalized by within a week. The contract was awarded on November 14”.The old foot overbridge at the north end has been closed for commuters from November 15. It will be dismantled and construction of new FOB will replace it within 6 months. It shall connect all platforms with a circulating area.

In Dec, Harbour line to extend till Goregaon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In good news for commuters on the Harbour line, starting December, services will extend till Goregaon. The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has acquired the much-needed rail tracks and ballasts earlier this month to be placed on the pending stretches between Andheri and Goregaon stations.In the last one week, officials and workers of the MRVC were seen at different stretches between Andheri and Ram Mandir stations where tracks were missing even though the alignment was made ready.Senior officials said that the process of dropping off the materials was to happen earlier but was delayed because of the Elphinstone Road stampede. The metals were then transferred for safety-related works rather than installation of new rail lines.”There was a shortfall of tracks for some time but we managed to convince the Railway Board to sanction it for this route as tracks were needed only for a small stretch,” said an MRVC official.Moreover, the MRVC acquired sand and ballasts, for the Rs 103 crore project, from Sabarmati river earlier last week. The two rail lines, whose height is slightly above the slow lines running next to it, are ready for trains to ply on them.This line will now allow trains from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), which currently terminates at Andheri, to go till Goregaon.For this project, new platforms for Jogeshwari have been created and are almost half a kilometre away from the existing station.

Indian Railways takes steps to identify absentee workers, Mazdoor unions resent

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A government job is said to be cushy as apart from salaries, perks, and regular bonus; they have 7-8hours work shifts or even less. However, on November 13, the Railway Board in Delhi ensured that the 14-lakh staff working for the Indian Railways come out of their comfort zone. For the first time, supervisors who head departments will be issuing certificates stating that an employee was present at work.’All employees in control of staff should give a certificate that they do not have any employee on their rolls who do not physically exist,’ states a circular issued by the Railway Board to all General Managers across Indian Railways.The circular issued by the Member (Staff) DK Gayen – who heads the Human Resources department for the whole of Indian Railways – also stated that random surprise checks should be conducted by inspectors of Personnel department and respective department. It has also asked for reviewing and listing names of unauthorised absentees in each department and unit. A copy of this is with DNA.The officers and supervisors approving the muster role will also have to give a certificate that all the staff who are getting their salaries where physically present on duty during the period. Not just this, every department will review the attendance sheet and weed out employees whose presence is based on mere proxy marking on the muster. Sources said that the Chairman of Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani when he assumed charge, had told that steps would be taken to monitor the performance of people.This is an important step as the coach production units, workshops, and car sheds where rakes are maintained and upgraded comprise of huge working staff. With lesser people actually on the ground for maintenance and upkeep of rail assets; the quality of coaches, basic amenities inside like seats, toilet blocks, fans and linen provided to passengers gets ignored.”These staffs are our eyes and ears. If they aren’t present then it is bound to have severe repercussions even in areas that come under safety category,” said a senior railway official.There are instances where people come to work in the morning, sign muster and leave after a couple of hours either for personal work or for the affiliated rail unions. The end result is that the number of people needed to ensure quality work be it in production and upkeep of rail tracks, coaches, cables and signaling systems is insufficient.This circular is also a jolt to the railway unions who have been playing an active role in shaping the Indian Railways. The unions at these places of work result in employees not giving the desired time and effort. The administration will be monitoring people to see if they are skipping work to balance out time for these registered unions. In fact, recently the General Manager of Western Railway AK Gupta had made a surprise check in his own office building at Churchgate where he caught women staff from another department, chit chatting even after lunch hours. Praveen Bajpai, general secretary, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: The staff knows the responsibilities and job well. There is no need for anyone to monitor. Everyday railway men open ticket booking windows, loco pilots and guards run trains, gangmen maintain tracks and other employees do their work; without anyone from administration telling them. Rather the Railway administration should concentrate on filling up over 2.5 lakh vacant posts which are causing a burden on other rail employees.Ajay Singh, divisional secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: “This circular has asked to take action against those who go on unauthorised leaves of more than 21 days. It is not as if the staff sign on the muster and leave as there is a lot of work and the administration isn’t filling up posts which results in undue pressue”.

Sena proposes bus fare cut, BEST admin disposes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an unusual turn of events on Tuesday, a proposal to reduce BEST bus fares in the minimum slab by Re 1 was passed after discussions in the BEST committee meeting on Tuesday, only to be withdrawn after the BEST administration objected to the move.At the meeting on Tuesday, the Shiv Sena proposed a reduction in fares in the minimum slab by Re 1. Its alliance partner BJP maintained that there shouldn’t be any change in the existing fares. After a debate, the proposal was also passed at the BEST Committee. However, it was then objected by the administration and the proposal was then withdrawn by Shiv Sena members themselves who are at the helm of the BEST Committee.This is the first time that a proposal mooted by a committee member is approved and withdrawn within a matter of minutes. The BEST has proposed a hike in fares for travelling 6 km and beyond from the existing Rs 14 to Rs 15.Similarly, after every 2 km, the fare will go up by Re 1. Against this proposal, Shiv Sena member Rajesh Kusale mooted that the BEST should reduce the minimum fare slabs of 2-4 km by Re 1 so as to compete with share autos and taxis.This would ideally mean that the minimum fare would have been Rs 7 and the next slab would be Rs 9. When this proposal was mooted, it went for voting between the different Committee members belonging to various political parties. As no one from Congress were present, the five members of Shiv Sena went in to approve this, while the four members of BJP remained status quo; thus the proposal to reduce minimum fares by Re 1 got approved.This would have come as a big jolt for the loss making BEST as they have posted deficit of Rs 880 crore in 2018-19 while in the previous financial year of 2017-18 they showed deficit of Rs 590 crore. Their parent organisation — BMC — has already asked them to come out with cost reduction and revenue augmenting measures. For this, the BEST has also identified five major reforms that is expected to earn them Rs 653 crore per annum. However, this sudden approval of reduced fares would make matters worse for the Undertaking.This is when Surendra Bagde, General Manager of BEST appealed to withdraw this decision of the Committee members. “A reduction in minimum fare would not make much difference to people who have already accepted the Rs 8 as minimum fare. So I appeal to the members to withdraw this proposal as the BEST is already facing severe losses,” said Bagde at the meeting.Soon after, the chairman Anil Kokil, who is also from Shiv Sena stated that in order to save the BEST stern measures needs to be taken. What happened next was withdrawal of an approved proposal which until now has not happened at least in recent past. “I had proposed this (reduction in fare) so that it would attract more people; as it is fares for long distance was being hiked. But the Chairman and administration were apprehensive about it and so I withdrew the proposal,” said Kusale to DNA.The approved fare charts will now be sent to the BMC for final approvals after which it will be implemented.SERIES OF EVENTSAt the meeting on Tuesday, the Shiv Sena proposed a reduction in fares BJP maintained that there shouldn’t be any change. After a debate, the proposal was also passed at the BEST Committee. However, it was then objected by the administration and rejected by Sena.

BEST’s gift to kids: Pay more for season passes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an ironic blow to students on Children’s Day, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) buses’ daily commute just got more expensive, as the undertaking approved a proposal on Tuesday to increase fares of daily and season passes of students. The hikes range between 16 to 66 percent. On Tuesday, the BEST Committee approved the proposal that hikes monthly bus passes for students up to Class 5 from Rs 150 to Rs 200, quarterly from Rs 450 to Rs 600 and six-monthly from Rs 750 to Rs 1000. These fares were earlier for students in Class 6 to 10, which too, has been increased to Rs 250, Rs 750 and Rs 1,250 respectively.Sources in the BEST said that as per their rough estimates, they give subsidies of Rs 41.7 crore to school and college students. This amount stood at Rs 20.13 crore in 2015-16, and over the last two years, the number of students using this provision has gone up. The BEST officials said that this is part of rationalising and cost cutting measures taken up by them to reduce losses. The BEST Undertaking’s 3,700 bus fleet is used to transport 30 lakh people daily. “These are cost reduction measures that are needed to bring down losses,” said Surendra Bagde, General Manager, BEST Undertaking.On Tuesday, the BEST Committee also passed a proposal for fare hike in long-distance fares and bus passes. It scrapped the proposal of getting buses on wet-lease basis, wherein the Undertaking would have reduced cost by Rs 260 crore annually. However, this would have meant that they would get 100 buses from private operators while the BEST would use their drivers and conductors. They would not be involved in maintenance of these buses, and hiring them would have cost Rs 37 per km. This is taking into account buses which ply for a maximum of 180 km a day.The BEST is also mulling rationalising their bus routes. It operates 504 bus routes daily, of which 150 routes fall under Grade C – they generate only 40 paise for every rupee spent per kilometre.Subsidies speakThey give subsidies of Rs 41.7 crore to school and college students. It also gives subsidies to freedom fighters, physically challenged, senior citizens, press to the tune of Rs 45.34 crore It also passed hike for long-distance fares and bus passes

Mumbai: Slab collapses at Andheri station; injures woman

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A lady suffered a head injury after a slab collapsed at Andheri station on Saturday night. According to sources, the woman was standing next to the queue to buy railway ticket from the booking counter.S Mule (56) was standing at the concourse while her son was standing in the queue to buy a ticket at the ticket counter on the east side of Andheri station. This is when a slab from the ceiling fell on her head and she collapsed.”It was around 9.15pm when this incident occurred,” said a relative . She was then taken to Cooper Hospital as she had suffered 20 stitches. Later she was discharged from the hospital. Mumbai’s suburban network has seen a spate of accidents. Two months ago, a stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station killed over 23 people, while a few days later a few people were injured after a portion of the pedestrian bridge collapsed at Charni Road station.

Panel suggests Transport dept not get into app-based taxi biz

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to further introduce and control the app-based taxi service market, the Maharashtra Transport department is eager to launch a mobile app for cabs which would be under their control.This is also why the Aamchi Drive App, launched by black-and-yellow taxi unions, was given a quick approval. However, the BC Khatua Committee has suggested the department not to get involved and leave provision of such services to private companies.Sources in the Transport department said that the report has also asked the taxi unions to refrain from getting mobile apps — such as Ola and Uber — as these are capital intensive.The report has now put the government in a fix as they intended to start and control their own app so as to bring more clarity into the system rather than private operators running the show.”We had plans of having our own app that would control the fares and security of passengers. Until the BC Khatua Committee recommendations, there were no rules for cab aggregators to abide by. We will now have to decide on further course of action,” said a Transport department official on condition of anonymity.

Mumbai: Aaditya Thackeray calls for better nourishment for BEST drivers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to ensure BEST drivers are healthy, Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray wants the staff on the bus service to seek the help of nutritionists. “The BEST administration, apart from conducting regular health check-ups, should also take help of nutritionists. The drivers should be provided drinks with glucose to keep them hydrated,” said Thackeray at Wadala bus depot after inaugurating electric buses on November 10.The BEST officials said that they can make provision to offer energetic drinks to drivers and conductors when they arrive at the bus station or depot after their trip, especially during summer. This has been proposed so that drivers don’t get dehydrated riding buses for long hours.Thackeray asked BEST General Manager Dr Surendra Bagde to personally look into this as he is also a nutritionist. Earlier, Four buses have been added to the fleet on Thursday. The introduced buses can run up to 200 km at a stretch once fully charged for three hours.For the initial phase, the buses will run on routes around Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSTM) and Churchgate station, including Route Number 138.The buses cost Rs. 1.61 crore each, which is more than double the price of regular buses and have a seating capacity of 30 people.Meanwhile the BEST employees are struggling to get their salaries on time for which the administration is taking monthly loans of Rs 180 crore. Sources said that if they take the extra effort of having nutritionists and having diet plans for their drivers and conductors then it would add up to the cost.Normally a BEST bus driver operates for 6-9 hours depending on his schedule and route allotted. A single bus runs up to 180 km each day in Mumbai. BEST’s fleet has 3700 buses and operates 504 routes every day.With ANI Inputs

Stationary Torture

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Mumbai’s local trains are often called the city’s ‘lifeline’, the 164-year-old rail system is struggling to keep pace with the 76 lakh commuters who now use the system daily. In the aftermath of the tragedy at Elphinstone Road station, several teams fanned across the city to audit railway stations.Shashank Rao takes a closer look at five of the city’s major stations to find out whether improvements, if any, have been made to the stations’ infrastructure only to find that not much has been done to plug the gaps to ensure the safety of commutersBandraBandra may be called the ‘Queen of the Suburbs’ and its station’s building may boast a ‘heritage’ tag but the condition of the rail premises in and around Bandra station are in dire straits. The Western and Harbour lines culminate at this station which caters to the commercial hub of Bandra-Kurla Complex on the east, and posh neighbourhoods and old villages on the west.While the platforms of the 19th century Victorian-styled station are wide enough to contain the high footfalls the station witnesses, the foot-overbridges (FOBs) that connect the west to the east are in poor condition.Over the past few weeks, the Railway authorities have rid the FOBs of hawkers. The station boasts the city’s first skywalk which is sadly occupied by hawkers.The FOB on the station’s south-end is incomplete, and connects only to the west. The other end leads to Harbour line platforms. Senior Western Railway (WR) officials claim they have begun the work of extending this FOB, and connecting it to the skywalk. “This work is expected to be complete by the end of this financial year,” said an official. The FOB on the station’s north-end is rarely used by commuters owing to the inconvenience it causes for hiring auto rickshaws.Plenty of food stalls dot this station, many of them near FOBs, blocking the free movement of commuters. Slums on both sides of the station lead to frequent instances of trespassing and people using the tracks for sitting and drying clothes. Besides, the slum dwellers often throw garbage on railway premises including the tracks which is one of the primary reasons for waterlogging of rail tracks every monsoon.The multi-disciplinary audit team, that was formed for both Western and Central Railway after the stampede at Elphinstone Road station, has proposed bar fencing as a way to prevent encroachers from using the fifth rail line on the east side of Bandra. The audit report submitted to the Railway ministry also states the need to demolish abandoned buildings on the station’s east side, provisions for proper lighting, cement-concrete boundary walls, and shutting down of unauthorized entry and exit points to the station.Daily Footfalls2016-171.41 LJogeshwariOwing to the ever-increasing crowd at Andheri station, Jogeshwari station too has grown in prominence over the past few years. Attention was drawn to the station’s poor infrastructure only after commuters went up in arms and resorted to ‘Rail Roko’ in the first week of October. The station is used by commuters to access area such as Oshiwara, Goregaon and Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road.The station’s infrastructure is poor considering its dual-discharge island platform for the slow line which caters to platforms 1 and 2. Trains to Borivli and Churchgate arrive here but fast trains to Churchgate also halt here during peak hours. In all, nearly 480 services halt at Jogeshwari everyday.”We do not have sufficient space to walk or wait for the trains on this island platform. The situation has worsened especially after the platform on the west side was broken down,” said Mansoor Darvesh, secretary, Passenger and Traffic Relief Association and a Jogeshwari resident.The platform has been demolished to accommodate two more tracks that are meant for the proposed Andheri-Goregaon Harbour line. WR officials agree that the cutting down of the 3-meter wide platform on the west side has left little space for commuters, especially during peak hours. New platforms have been built further north of Jogeshwari station where the Harbour line trains are slated to make their halt. This has a subway built for people to enter or exit the station premises and has been completely covered by an oval shaped roof.A new FOB and an elevated ticket booking office has been built but commuters claim that the office is too high and there is a need for escalators. As a result, commuters tend to trespass rather than climb the long flight of stairs. Besides, the platforms do not have roof-cover at the ends which the WR authorities are now working to install.Daily Footfalls2016-171.06 LWadalaApart from local trains connecting the Harbour line, this station has a truck terminal and a junction which connects freight and goods trains from the city’s Port Trust to rest of the country. It is also the station where local trains connect both Andheri on the WR and Panvel on CR. Apart from the four rail tracks for the suburban system, there are at least eight rail tracks meant for goods trains carrying coal, cement and other freight.The daily footfalls at Wadala station have increased owing to the several offices that have come up around the area. Not to forget the college-going crowd of nearby degree and engineering colleges. To cater to this increasing crowd, CR officials say they have increased the number of services on the Harbour line with additional halts at Wadala. From October 2, the CR added 14 suburban services on the CSMT-Panvel Harbour line and another 14 on the Thane-Vashi Trans-harbour line.This station too witnesses several cases of trespassing due to the several illegal slums and encroachments around the rail premises. For instance, there are several encroachments causing problems at the Raoli junction near the station. “The CR needs to ensure that encroachments are demolished and people are rehabilitated so that garbage from rail premises can be removed,” said Gaurang Damani, a Wadala resident.CR officials said that the FOBs on the Kurla-end of the station witness heavy congestion. During peak hours, the station witnesses instances of overcrowding due to inadequate entry and exit points. The audit report has advised replacement of the existing FOB with a wider one, and extending it to the Monorail station.There is a possibility of creating four more entry and exit points, apart from removing railway offices to provide wider exits. The shops outside the station too need to be relocated and the Railways are in talks with the BMC for the same.Daily Footfalls2016-1770,767MasjidThis is one of the stations that connects older and busy markets such as Crawford Market, Manish Market, Masjid Bunder, Mangaldas Market and the Mumbadevi Temple. Additionally, it connects both the Main and Harbour lines.While the CR demolished and built a new road-overbridge at Masjid around seven years ago, the condition of this station continues to remain dismal.Platforms 3 and 4 slope towards the tracks, making them dangerous for commuters boarding and alighting from moving trains.”The iron borders of the staircase jut out which could hurt commuters hurrying to catch a train,” said a railway official. The multi-disciplinary team in its report noted that the staircases are slippery.This station too suffers from heavy encroachment with hawkers having residential dwellings outside and next to the station. These lead to congestion during peak hours. As there is a huge market area nearby, many vendors and sellers carrying bulk luggage use the FOBs which further leads to congestion.The CR authorities are working on providing space for extension on the FOB’s east side till the deck, in order to ensure speedy clearance on the CSMT-end of the booking office. Sources said that on the Kalyan-end of the FOB, on the west hand side, there is a shop blocking smooth movement of commuters and so the BMC has been asked to relocate this shop.Meanwhile, the middle FOB witnesses the maximum number of commuters as it is closest to the markets. The CR authorities are working on arrangements for walking using a skywalk on the vacant space connecting east and west. The officials said that the BMC has agreed to provide landings for the same.Daily Footfalls2016-1755,800KurlaThis station is among the most crowded in the suburban railway network. It provides access to Bandra-Kurla Complex on the west and Nehru Nagar, Andheri-Kurla Road on the east. It connects Main and Harbour lines of CR, making it an important station.The station has three FOBs which are densely crowded. Over 245 people who trespass have died on the tracks at Kurla until November this year. This is a particular problem near the northern end of the station from where Harbour line trains ply. Besides, the width of these FOBs are a mere 2.44 meters, needing immediate replacement with wider FOBs, and modification to connect it with the skywalk. Several women commuters at this station complain of being wrongly touched. After nearly a decade, a new subway has been inaugurated and thrown open to the public by the BMC.”This subway is needed to have arms connecting the platforms instead of only going from east to west,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Mumbai Rail Yatri Sangh.There are several shops — illegal and legal — that need to be removed and relocated in order to provide better access to commuters. At present, it is a struggle to exit the station premises but after the Elphinstone Road tragedy several hawkers have been cleared. Auto rickshaws parked haphazardly outside the station make smooth transit a problem. The audit report mentioned the need to disallow vehicular traffic from coming close to the station premises on the west side.There is also a proposal of having an elevated three-line Harbour station above the eastern part of the sprawling Kurla station. The Rs 96-crore project entails the creation of a rail flyover, starting from north of Chunabhatti to the south of Tilak nagar stations right above the current platforms 7 and 8. The elevated Harbour line will have two lines that will move towards CSMT and Panvel while the third line will terminate at Kurla. The rail line below will then be used by freight trains coming from Mumbai Port Trust via Wadala.Daily Footfalls2016-171.58 LWe have taken several steps to ensure that there is no congestion on rail premises. We are also coordinating with the BMC to demarcate no hawking zones.—Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western RailwayWe have started taking initiatives to reduce congestion at railway premises. Work to improve infrastructure of platforms and FOBs has also begun.—Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, Central Railway

Mumbai: Western Railway to spend crores on cleaning garbage!

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Next time you see someone throw a sachet of pan masala, or plastic bottle on rail tracks, remember that public money is getting wasted on cleaning and removing them. Following complaints made by various passenger associations over cleanliness to the Western Railway, the latter has told that they will be spending more than Rs 2 crore only for removing these plastic materials from rail tracks.”We had raised the issue of plastic bottles and covers choking the drains and had asked the rail authorities to clean them,” said Kailash Verma, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.Senior WR officials said that they will be spending Rs 2.02 crore on cleaning and removing plastic bottles, covers from rail tracks between Churchgate to Virar. “We have called tenders for the same,” said a WR official. On an average night, 10 train coaches of rubbish and muck are carted away from the city.These sachets, bottles and covers are one of the main reasons behind water logging on tracks during monsoon as they choke the drainage system and culverts criss-crossing the rail lines. During the recent high-level meeting chaired by Union Railway minister Piyush Goyal, the civic bodies were asked to co-operate with the Indian Railways as far as prevention of water logging on tracks is concerned for which removing these muck and garbage is essential.Recently the Indian Railways conducted a cleanliness check of 400 stations across Indian Railways where suburban sections of both Western and Central Railways fared poorly.

Post notes ban, BEST gets fake notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking received a maximum number of fake notes — including Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations — in November 2016 when demonetisation was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, data shows.According to figures accessed by DNA, BEST received fake notes worth Rs 206,550 in the financial year ending March 2017 as part of revenue of Rs 1,195 crore from selling bus tickets and season passes; the latter accounted for Rs 28,050 of the total fake currency.In November 2016, BEST received 39 fake notes of Rs 1,000, 37 of Rs 500, and about 300 of Rs 100 denomination.”This was when demonetisation was announced. There was no way of identifying the fake ones and so such a huge number was accumulated,” a BEST official said, on condition of anonymity.However, those numbers fell soon — only 13 units of Rs 500 and two of Rs 100 were received in December 2016. Since January 2017, the BEST received only Rs 400 in fake currency.

Railways on drive to remove anti-social elements

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railways are in the process of identifying stations where drug peddlars and addicts are often seen. On the Western Railway, they have received complaints from locals of these unwanted elements outside Grant Road station. Officials said that they are posting RPF staff to get rid of this menace. On the Central Railway, Masjid-CSMT is known for this menace.The WR officials said that during the multi disciplinary visits; the teams saw the presence of these anti- social elements who are threat to commuters. This is the reason the decision has been taken to evict these beggars, drug peddlers and other anti-social elements from Grant Road station premises. These people sit right outside platform 4 – where trains to Churchgate arrive – especially in the evenings.There is an old dilapidated railway yard right next to this platform, which officials state these people use to escape onto the road outside. “We have asked the RPF to monitor the stations where the elements are found and get rid of them,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway.There is, at Grant Road station, a spot that is supported by six pillars as an extension to the station premises, with a ticket booking office next to this concourse where commuters are seen. Sources said that there is a proposal to shift the stalls inside the station present on the platform onto this concourse so that it doesn’t get encroached upon by anti-social elements.The BMC has already removed the beggars and as per the plans, No Hawking Zone has been created there. Sources said that there is an abandoned structure near the FOB on the same platform that too needs to be removed. The RPF officers claim that they are posting their staff at stations where the issue of anto social elements and hawkers have arise.On the Central Railway there are anti social elements that are seen between CSMT and Masjid stations. Sources agree that this stretch is well-known for these anti-social elements who operate despite action is taken from time to time. There is a proposal to remove the hawkers from both Churchgate and CSMT stations which are like hub for these hawkers.These steps are being taken to create more space on railway premises and on the outside so that people can walk freely. Over the past few days there have been demolition drives across various stations and its periphery. These critical actions taken by the government authorities is the outcome of the stampede at Elphinstone Road where 23 people lost their lives on September 29.

Driving licence tests to be held at bus depots

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra Transport Department is looking at bus depots to train motorists applying for driving licenses. This comes after the Khatua Committee asked the transport department to ensure proper training of people applying for driving licences.The transport department on behalf of Borivali Regional Transport Office (RTO) has sought temporary land from the BEST at Dahisar. This will be mainly used as a test track for motorists coming in to procure learners and permanent driving licenses. At this point of time, the two RTOs of Wadala and Borivali don’t have designated test track; tests are conducted on busy roads where regular vehicles ply.The remaining two RTOs at Tardeo and Andheri have badly damaged test tracks. Sources in Borivali RTO — that caters to vehicles falling between Goregaon and Dahisar — said that they have asked the BEST Undertaking to let them use almost over 3,000 sq ms of plot lying unused inside Kandarpada depot.The total land space of this depot is 6,050 sq m, which can accommodate 70 buses easily. “The transport department asked us to give land for a period of four months,” said Surendra Bagde, General Manager, BEST Undertaking.BEST will get Rs 1 lakh per month as rent from the RTO for using this space. Sources said that initially they had asked for this plot for two hours but then they decided to take it for a period of 4months in totality. The RTOs are looking at acquiring a 250-metre stretch of land to set up driving test tracks.Presently, driving schools are also taking their students to RTOs where they are asked to drive in front of RTO officers. “It becomes risky as there are pedestrians and other regular vehicles plying on the same road where we conduct the tests,” said an RTO official.The Wadala RTO, too, is in bad shape. It doesn’t have a dedicated testing track and learners end up driving near Wadala truck terminal. The Andheri RTO has not maintained the driving track well, which is nothing but a bumpy stone-filled ground.The BC Khatua Committee, in its recently submitted report to the Maharashtra government, asked the transport department to setup driving institutes and also provide refresher courses to people from time to time. The committee has pointed out that the quality of driving needs improvement for which steps have to be taken.

Lead: Soon, local coaches to have

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two crime cases involving local trains remain pending for the lack of CCTV cameras inside the coaches. In September this year, 32-year-old Aarti Salian fell off a moving train at Nallasopara while trying to nab a robber. In the same month, another 19-year-old girl was pushed out of a moving train by a mugger at Virar station. For both cases, the railway police are only scouting for proof using the CCTVs installed in rail platforms. This, however, may change soon.The Western Railway has already mooted a plan to install 1,848 CCTVs inside all coaches — both ladies and general compartment — of local trains. Sources said that they shall be installing these high definition CCTVs inside 308 coaches, for which a proposal has been prepared. Each coach will have six CCTVs installed that would cover most of the spaces inside and near the doors. This will be the first time that CCTVs inside coaches will be installed at such a large scale.”This would surely give more confidence to commuters as far as the safety of women is concerned. This will also help nab commuters who travel in groups and block seats and doors, resulting in arguments and fights,” said Sandeep Salian, husband of Aarti who fought the mobile thief. “There is also a need to post two railway police staff at the end of every platform at least during the lean hours so that such robbery cases can be tackled”.As per plans, the WR will install high -resolution CCTVs. The first lot of CCTVs installed had a problem — that images generated were blurred and pixelated. The effort was going waste. “The problems that had cropped up earlier have been tackled in the new lot of CCTVs. We will also have an integrated security system to cover 32 railway stations,” said a WR official.The railway ministry has given full freedom to its authorities vis-a-vis spending funds to tackle safety issues. The integrated security system would cost Rs 114 crore; it would have a dedicated room at stations that would be beamed with live images to montior passenger activities, face recognition, identifying areas where there is large crowd, auto-alert of suspicious movement of people at rail premises, alerting trespassing on rail tracks through a network of CCTV cameras, etc.”We have already installed CCTVs inside 51 women’s coaches. The process to install them in all coaches has begun,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway. The WR will be installing more than 2,700 CCTVs at railway stations, which would also include replacing the 1,100 CCTVs that are of inferior quality.”The railways should ensure that these are properly monitored and timely action is taken. People should be assigned particular responsibilities to address any lacuna in alerting their staff at station premises in case an untoward incident is reported,” said Kailash Verma, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.The electronic surveillance inside ladies’ compartments was first planned in mid-2015. The recorder can save data for upto 30 days.WHAT’S IN STOREAs per plans, the WR will install high -resolution CCTVs. The first lot of CCTVs installed had a problem — the images were blurred and pixelated. An integrated security system will be built, too. It will cover 32 stations. There would be rooms broadcasting live images through CCTVs to monitor passenger activities.

Parties’ clash puts Rlys in a spot over hawker ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ever since the hawkers’ issue took a political turn, the Railways are hesitant to stop vendors and traders carrying huge sacks and luggage during peak hours. These include flower and vegetable vendors who added to the crowd at the Elphinstone Road station stampede on September 29, which claimed the lives of 23 people.The multi-disciplinary audit teams on both Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR) had suggested disallowing these vendors from carrying their wares, gunny bags, and luggage into the rail premises especially during peak hours. However, the rail authorities have not been able to take a stand on the implementation of the ban.At stations like Elphinstone Road, Dadar, Byculla, and Andheri, vendors carry huge sacks while commuting, which causes a lot of inconvenience to the commuters on the foot-overbridges (FOBs).Sources in the Railways said that they cannot have a blanket ban on the vendors and that this would also mean preventing dabbawalas from travelling in trains during peak hours. The dabbawalas cater to lakhs of Mumbaikars daily, and they travel in the goods compartment but alighting from the FOBs is a tough task as thousands of commuters rush up and down the bridges.”We will need views from people, rail passengers and their associations on whether these vendors should be stopped from using the rail premises during peak hours,” said AK Gupta, General Manager, Western Railway.Hawkers are being driven away by political goons, and in retaliation, the political supporters are getting trashed by hawkers.In the past few days, the MNS party members have been driving away hawkers and destroying their businesses, while the Congress has come in support of the same hawkers and vendors.FUTURE PLANThe authorities have proposed to reduce the weight of luggage carried by commuters from 50kg to 15kg inside First Class compartment of suburban trains
They have also proposed to reduce the weight from 35kg to 10kg in second class compartment

Now, app cab driver check every month

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mobile aggregators have changed the dynamics of travel for Mumbaikars but on the flipside, due to the several complaints of molestation and harassment cases against women passengers, proper background check of drivers has come to the fore again. Over the last several months, the biggest problem faced by the government is getting details out from aggregators like Uber and Ola, who according to the officials from Transport department, share limited information. Now, for the first time, a basic skeletal of details that needs to be provided by the App-based aggregators has been prescribed by the four-member BC Khatua Committee, in which data should be updated and shared every month. In a bid to strengthen safety of passengers, the committee has categorically stated that the aggregator companies need to sign a consent letter with the driver or owner of a vehicle, who join them.The RTO officials claim that over the last 2-3 years there are nearly 4 lakh vehicles that have joined the aggregator platforms in Mumbai and its metropolitan region but then there is little detail about the owners and drivers. Now, the report mentions the need for the aggregators to send a soft copy of the number of taxis plied by them and drivers working for them.With details of each and every driver right from his name, address and government identity proof will fill the loophole.“This will be updated every month before 7th. This is an important point taken up by the committee as we have been struggling to get correct numbers which would help us in maintaining data for transport planning,” said an official from Transport department. Apart from the safety aspect, the travel patterns too have changed since App based aggregators arrived in the scene. The government wants to create a mobility plan and maintain data for the same.

Toy train services to Matheran partially resume today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The iconic toy train service to Matheran, which was halted in May 2016, will partially resume October 30 onwards.On Sunday, the Central Railway (CR) authorities conducted trials for the same before deciding to run services only on the Aman Lodge to Matheran route. According to sources, the trials were smooth and the new braking system worked well.In May 2016, there were two consequent cases of derailments following which the authorities decided to resume the services only after strengthening the infrastructure and rail system.”We ran engine and coaches fitted with better and safer air brakes. As a precaution we will operate only on this 3.5-km stretch,” said a CR official. The entire stretch from Neral to Matheran is 21-km long.Earlier, brake porters had to apply the brakes by physically standing between two coaches in sync to halt the train. Any mistake in applying brakes on time led the train to derail.Sunil Udasi, chief PRO, CR said, “Work to upgrade and strengthen the tracks on the Neral to Aman Lodge stretch is underway”.There will be three second-class coaches, one first-class coach, and two brake vans. The authorities are also working on installing proper barricades on the hilly terrain to prevent derailments wherein coaches could fall in gorges.Toy trains particularly face trouble at bends, and a number of locations along the stretch curve at 79° and 120°, leading to coaches sliding off the tracks in the past.The 4 to 6-ft-high crash barriers will be installed at various points along the route at a cost of Rs 6.75 crore. The track replacement will cost Rs 12.87 crore.

Repairs yet to begin for Parsik tunnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Parsik tunnel finds itself in a precarious condition because of the slums that have mushroomed on it.The tunnel, built in 1873, is one of Asia’s oldest ones. There are multiple leakages inside the tunnel through which water spurts onto passing trains and its ceiling is cracked. The Central Railway (CR) plans to start repairs soon.”We have called for tenders worth Rs 4 crore,” said a CR official. “This will mainly consist of repairing and replastering the walls and roof. CR authorities will put a 5mm-thick layer of cement and create a channel for diverting water.”Earlier this week, the Bombay High Court came down heavily on the Central Railway and Thane Municipal Corporation over their failure to undertake steps to repair the Parsik tunnel. The Court noted that there had been no progress and sought an explanation for the delay.Sources in CR said that the work is not easy as the trains are constantly moving and they will have to take mega blocks and possibly even stop services for carrying out repair works in such a large scale.Apart from slums, several toilet blocks and garbage on the tracks pose a threat.In June 2015, the Central Railway authorities completed power upgradation between Thane and Kalyan from 1500 volt DC to 25000 volt AC. They also lowered tracks inside the Parsik tunnel and also put speed restrictions.There is also a proposal to construct Parsik railway station to cater the seven lakh commuters regularly use CR trains between Thane and Dombivli. If a Parsik station is built, it will not only ease passenger movement between Thane and Diva, but also help to preserve the tunnel, which has grown weak due to illegal encroachments on the hill.

With 50% vacancy, RTOs face personnel shortage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Figure this. There are 1,000 new applications for driving license and around the same number of new vehicles registered at the four Regional Transport Office of Tardeo, Andheri, Wadala and Borivli each day.There are thousands of auto and taxis which come to get their fitness done. But the burden is on only 50 per cent of the government employees working at these RTOs due to a 50 per cent vacancy across grades at all the RTOs.With an unprecedented growth in the vehicle population in the last 10-15 years, the number of vehicles has increased from 10.30 lakh vehicles in 2000-01 to 16 lakh vehicles in 2007-08. Until March 2017, the number of vehicles had gone up twice and now stands at over 30 lakh vehicles in the city. Across the state, these numbers are huge.This has resulted in a substantial increase in the workload of the motor vehicle department. This has been raised by the BC Khatua Committee which studied various aspects of public transport. They highlighted the disparity in sanctioned strength and vacancies that need to be filled, which, when collated across the four RTOs, shows a 50 per cent vacancy.”In the course of time, the Transport department has helped generate a substantial share of the state’s revenue. Many states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which have a lesser vehicle population, reportedly have a higher number of offices and officers than that of Maharashtra,” states the Khatua report.According to figures, the total vacancies across various groups and departments is 3,637 posts. Of this, most requirements are at the assistant inspector level in charge of checking vehicles, testing drivers, inspecting vehicles involved in accidents, going on field to catch motorists breaching laws and giving licences at the RTOs. At least 77 per cent of the total sanctioned strength of 1,302 posts are empty.The unions have been complaining the lack of manpower has seen little detection of illegal operations of taxi and autos plying in the city. The report has mentioned that even commuters complain against the non-use of meters, overcharging and misconduct of drivers; which barely gets addressed as there are not enough men to do the job at the RTOs.The Transport department officials agree that basic infrastructure like software, computers and other hardwar provided at RTOs is inadequate. The Khatua Committee has now recommended the government to fill up these vacancies within a year.

Now, cabs & autos to have a panic button

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to ensure safety of passengers, the Khatua Committee has made it mandatory for not only Ola, Uber and black and yellow cabs but also autorickshaws to have panic buttons installed. Apart from this, rooftop indicators should also be fitted in both taxis and autorickshaws so as to bring down cases of refusals.To begin with, the committee has proposed GPS-based panic buttons to be installed in all black and yellow cabs, autorickshaws, city taxis that operate by mobile aggregators. This is to locate every public transport especially in times of an accident to locate the vehicle or help a passenger in distress when called on the helpline.The report states that no new public transport vehicle should be issued permits by the RTOs without panic buttons. There are 1.39 lakh autorickshaws, 56,000 black and yellow taxis in Mumbai, and four lakh city taxis operating with Ola and Uber across Mumbai and it’s Metropolitan Region.This is for the first time that autorickshaws have too been roped in for having panic buttons which until now was mainly meant for mobile aggregators. The Khatua Committee has asked the current fleet to have these panic buttons installed within sixmonths.Shailesh Sawlani, General Manager, Uber India, West said: “A preliminary reading of the report suggests that the Committee has made welcome strides in turning aside some of the contentious provisions of the proposed Maharashtra City Taxi Rules that directly impact thousands of driver partners on app based platforms.

BC Khatua panel scripts rules for Ola, Uber

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There is every possibility that one may not find bigger expensive cars operating as cabs when one books an Uber or Ola. The BC Khatua Committee, appointed by the state government, has scrapped the recommendation that 30 per cent of the total fleet of a mobile aggregator should be 1400 CC and above, and that the owner of the vehicle has the right to decide the quality of car. Not just this, there shall now be a common uniform for all mobile aggregator drivers that would be blue shirt, black trouser and tie, which shall be mandatory.The state government had appointed a four-member committee under former IAS officer Khatua to review taxi and auto-rickshaw fares fixed by the PMA Hakeem committee in 2012. The Khatua Committee report recommends that the vehicles bought for ferrying under Uber and Ola should be maximum of 10 years old.The committee has suggested fare hikes in autos and black and yellow taxis. The minimum will be Rs 19 for autos and Rs 23 for taxis. Moreover, the per km rate too has been hiked by 50 paise for both these modes of transport. Also, they have kept a cap of Rs 14 per km as starting fare and maximum of Rs 38 per km as cap for the mobile aggregators. This would mean that Uber and Ola cannot bring down fares to as low as Rs 6 per km to lure people and go for surge pricing where fares rise upto 4-5 times.To protect the environment and curb pollution, the panel has suggested converting all vehicles under mobile aggregators to CNG in next four years. There are more than 70,000 vehicles operating as mobile aggregators. Earlier, there was no age limit for these vehicles plying for mobile aggregators. The age limit of black and yellow taxis will stay at 20 years.The panel has changed the idea of a driver wearing uniform identifying the company. Instead, they have proposed a single uniform as the committee found that drivers were working for both Uber and Ola at the same time.

Deja vu for commuters: WR gets back old rakes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s been more than a fortnight that 37 lakh people are forced to travel crammed in the rickety and slow moving rakes; and this is because the Western Railway (WR) has brought back the old rakes and included them in their fleet.These are the rakes which have less appealing coaches, fans that hardly circulate air, cob-webbed tube lights, smaller windows and crammed doorways. The officials from WR said that they have inducted these old BHEL-make rakes as the number of daily services has been increased to 1,355 from October 1.“We have 100 rakes in our fleet, of which 14 per cent is kept for routine maintenance. But now we have increased our fleet for operations to 89 rakes,” said a WR official.Until September, WR used to run 86 rakes that operated 1,323 services every day. But as they have increased the number of services by 32, they are pressing the older rakes into operations. For the past few years, WR had been operating only the new trains that can touch 100kmph unlike these older rakes that don’t go beyond 80kmph.“We have to be perfect as far as maintenance of rakes is concerned. We cannot afford more rakes to have technical failures and have margin of error, else we will lose the daily punctuality count,” said a WR official.These BHEL-make rakes are known to undergo technical failures and breakdowns, especially during monsoons. Moreover, the remaining codal life — each rake can operate for 25-30 years depending on the maintenance — is barely 6-8 years for these rakes.

Western Railway audit: Reduce luggage weight of commuters, instal escalators

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The best way to prevent people from standing on stairways of foot over bridges (FOBs) is to replace them with escalators. Not just this, the Western Railway (WR) in its audit report has suggested reducing the weight of bags and luggage carried inside local trains. Both these factors were among the reasons behind the Elphinstone Road stampede, when the smooth movement of people on the staircase of a foot over bridge was hindered by luggage and sacks carried by commuters.The audit report of WR has suggested that the size and weight of bags carried by commuters in local trains should be reduced drastically. Sources said that at present a commuter travelling first-class can carry up to 50 kg and a second-class passenger can carry 35 kg. “We have proposed to bring it down to 15 kg for first-class and 10 kg for second-class,” said a WR official.Just before Diwali, the Central Railway gave a proposal to the Railway Board in Delhi seeking permission to construct 214 escalators in Mumbai. At present, there are 22 escalators on CR and 32 escalators on WR. This is apart from the ongoing work on 52 escalators on CR. “We are also working at erecting these 52 escalators by June 2018,” said SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.The recent audit of stations done by the different teams had also asked the CR authorities to build 67 new escalators. These too have been included in the 214 escalators that have been sent to Delhi. The cost of each escalator is Rs 60 lakh that has annual maintenance contract of 3 years.The WR on the other hand is constructing 18 escalators and has asked for 80 more escalators across all the stations. Apart from this the CR will also construct 12 new FOBs.NEW MEASURESCCTVs planned to cover escalators. 12 new FOBs are being built at a cost of Rs 180 crore.
Special CCTVs will be placed that will capture the crowded locations and send a beeper to the RPF control room

After stampede, railway station to have no-hawking zones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Getting out of a railway station in Mumbai is already a tedious task, and to make matters worse, encroachment by illegal hawkers at or near railway stations hinders smooth movement. Thus, the Maharashtra government has fixed a ‘no hawking zone’ at all railway stations, specifying a buffer of 150-metres from rail premises. This comes as a significant step to decongest stations following the stampede at Elphinstone Road station in which 23 people died.Sources said that this decision has been taken following the September 30 meeting chaired by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. “On October 8, we received a letter from the chief secretary asking us to create a ‘no hawking zone’ at stations,” said SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway. The letter has been sent to the civic bodies too.Sources said that they have started the process of demarcating the rail premises for which they will put up boards or poles. Once this is done, the BMC will begin the process of identifying 150-metres from the rail premises. “We will calculate this distance from the entry or exit points of railway stations,” said another rail official.Railway officials are also identifying stations where hawkers are seen in huge numbers. Railways and BMC will then profile these hawkers. Apart from the Railway Protection Force, ticket collectors and commercial inspectors too have been allowed to click pictures of illegal hawkers. Profiles of hawkers will be created and maintained by the RPF. These will be shared with BMC, and the two agencies are expected to ensure that steps are taken to provide designated space for hawkers.Shashank Rao, president of Mumbai Hawkers Union, said: “We will first see the demarcation made for hawking. The 150-meters as ‘no hawking zone’ is absurd, as even during elections, people aren’t allowed till 100 meters. We are planning to go on a day-long strike in November against the policies framed against hawkers by the government.”BMC is already working on a Hawkers Policy, which was first proposed in 2014. It has sent a proposal to the state government to form a Town Vending Committees (TVC), which will outline the framework of the Hawkers Policy after conducting surveys.The TVC is likely to conduct surveys to identify street vendors, issue certificates to eligible ones, recommend areas to be declared non-hawking zones, demarcate spaces for hawking and regulate timings. The hawkers will be divided into three categories — mobile, stationary and permanent ones. There are close to three lakh hawkers in Mumbai.

Churchgate to get reflective zebra crossing

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first, a zebra crossing in the city will now be painted with reflective paint that will shine at night. This is being done at the junction outside Churchgate station by the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA). The association completes 99 years on October 17.It is for the first time that radium will be used to paint zebra crossings in the city. The radium will help the crossing to glow in the dark which will assist motorists in low light.”We have written to the traffic police and the BMC about these reflective zebra crossings. We are working out a pilot project at the Churchgate station junction in this month,” said Nitin Dossa, president, WIAA.There are four heavy traffic junctions at Churchgate that are likely to be painted by the WIAA. Depending on the pilot project’s success, the government agencies will consider taking it forward in rest of the city.Zebra crossings across the city continually get wiped off and are barely visible. These reflective ones will be similar to the side barriers seen on highways.Members from WIAA said that they have planned many more activities in the coming months as part of the association entering its centurion in 2017-18. Plans are being chalked out so far.Some of these activities will take up issues of parking, decongesting and other traffic-related concerns of south Mumbai.For this purpose, the WIAA will install electronic notice boards at various junctions in south Mumbai that will display the status of congested roads in real-time.This is likely to start in the first week of November. The electronic notice board will also show other information such as diversions to be taken during heavy rains or at the time of accidents.The display boards will also have slogans and traffic rules showcased on them.

Railway officials struggle to keep up with FOB deadline

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Union Railways Minister, Piyush Goyal, set a one-year deadline for completing the new foot-overbridge (FOB) at Elphinstone Road station, senior railway officials told DNA that the FOB will take over one-and-half years to be built and be functional. They confirmed that they will struggle to meet the deadline.Western Railway ordered an inquiry on Friday when a woman was injured after a piece of granite tile, with cement chunks, fell on her forehead at Elphinstone Road station. A fortnight ago, 23 people lost their lives in a stampede on a FOB at the station.Senior railway officials said that under normal circumstances, a regular FOB takes more than 1.5 to 2 years to complete, and in this case, despite making it their top priority, they would not be able to complete the project within a year.The Western Railway (WR) authorities, meanwhile, have called for private contractors, architects and civil engineers who can help them with the latest technology for building new FOBs and reconstruct the existing ones as soon as possible.Both the Western and Central Railway (CR) are working on this new Rs 11.38 crore FOB connecting Elphinstone Road and Parel stations. It is also part of the proposed Parel terminus — which is being constructed by CR —and is delayed by 5 years or so. The WR officials are also blaming the CR for delaying work on this terminus which is stuck due to internal permissions and clearances.”We have to take care of minute details while constructing this new FOB. There are two different railway authorities involved in building this FOB, while a railway terminus is also planned there, which too has seen delays,” said a WR official.

Elphinstone station FOB work gains momentum

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The stampede tragedy at the Elphinstone Road station seems to have opened the eyes of the Railways. The department, which halts most of its projects during the rains, has taken on its heels and resumed its work on the long-pending Rs 51 crore Parel Terminus.The Central Railway authorities have expedited work over the last two days on the terminus that was proposed in 2011. The project at Parel Terminus includes construction of five platforms with overheads, widening of platforms to 10 metres, providing new FOB connecting East and West. The tenders on the proposed FOB was also delayed by 18 months.The tragedy would not have taken place had the FOB been wider. The Railway Board, on October 11, constituted a high-level expert committee to inquire the reasons that led to the delay of constructing the Rs 11.86 crore FOB connecting both Elphinstone Road and Parel stations.The issuance of Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) for Elphinstone Road FOB took around 18 months, for which barely Rs 1000 was provided in the 2016-17 railway budget. The committee would be headed by Shri Pratyush Sinha (Retd Chief Vigilance Commissioner) with Shri Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman CII Economic Affairs council, and Shri Subodh Jain, (Retd Member Engineering, Railway Board) as members and Director Safety, Railway Board, and Shri Pankaj Kumar as Member Secretary.The FOB was part of the Parel Terminus meant to cater the increasing crowd at Elphinstone Road, Dadar and Parel stations. DNA had reported about the slow progress and delays in the project. “We have started cleaning the area. Soon, sufficient manpower will be deployed for the work,” said a CR official.

In a first, West Railway seeks help from outside

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Worried about meeting the stringent deadline for constructing 10 new foot over bridges (FOBs) and rebuilding 14 FOBs, the Western Railway, for the first time, has sought external help. The department scheduled a brainstorming session for October 17.Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has given the railways 12-18 months for completing work on FOBs. Apart from calling in tenders and inviting consultants and builders for the work, the WR officials have said they will have to engage latest technologies to finish the project in such short notice.“As per plans, these consultants will give ideas on how to go about constructing new FOBs at available space and methods to demolish and rebuild existing FOBs,” said a WR official. They shall be discussing proper traffic planning, creating a foundation for pillars between two tracks within limited space, modification to OHE equipment, relocating signalling poles and shifting other utilities. The railway board has also given permission to extend the mega block timings at night from 2hours to at least 4 hours to help to carry out safety works. ON THE AGENDAMeanwhile, Director General RPF, Dharmendra Kumar has sent a letter to Maharashtra Director General of Police Satish Mathur for proper codification of duties between the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) and avoid any overlapping of duties and roles during crises and exigencies. A committee has been formed to decide standard operating procedures to avoid any overlap.

In a first, WR seeks help from outside

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Worried about meeting the stringent deadline for constructing 10 new foot over bridges (FOBs) and rebuilding 14 FOBs, the Western Railway, for the first time, has sought external help. The department scheduled a brainstorming session for October 17.Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has given the railways 12-18 months for completing work on FOBs. Apart from calling in tenders and inviting consultants and builders for the work, the WR officials have said they will have to engage latest technologies to finish the project in such short notice.”As per plans, these consultants will give ideas on how to go about constructing new FOBs at available space and methods to demolish and rebuild existing FOBs,” said a WR official.They shall be discussing proper traffic planning, creating a foundation for pillars between two tracks within limited space, modification to OHE equipment, relocating signalling poles and shifting other utilities.The railway board has also given permission to extend the mega block timings at night from 2hours to at least 4 hours to help to carry out safety works.ON THE AGENDAMeanwhile, Director General RPF, Dharmendra Kumar has sent a letter to Maharashtra Director General of Police Satish Mathur for proper codification of duties between the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) and avoid any overlapping of duties and roles during crises and exigencies. A committee has been formed to decide standard operating procedures to avoid any overlap.

Audit points at low resolution of CCTVs at CR stations in city

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The multi-agency teams sent out by Central Railway to audit railway stations in Mumbai have found that the resolution of CCTVs installed at these stations is very poor. Sources said the image pixelates and there is little clarity. Moreover, there is need for at least 194 improved version of CCTVs at railway stations on their network.To begin with, railway officials said there are several shortcomings that these CCTVs have which is causing hindrance. Not only do these CCTVs produce grainy images, but the connectivity to the system is also poor. The report at several stations mentions the need to augment the number of CCTVs and its quality.There are around 20 railway stations that are in need of more CCTVs on its premises to cover FOBs, subways and platforms. In fact on October 9, the Director General (DG) of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) from the Railway Board had visited a few of the stations like Parel, Dadar, Kurla, Panvel and travelled inside local trains and made note of the situation.Recently, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal promised that more CCTVs will be placed at railway stations. Also, every single coach of a local train will be covered by CCTVs in the next one year. Sources said this is one of the reasons why the DG visited Mumbai. “We are working towards getting more and better CCTVs into the system,” said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity.Some of the other problems that the CCTVs face is that the wires are exposed and hang precariously on platforms. In Navi Mumbai, the CCTVs are not functioning efficiently and even shut off during loadshedding.The issue of coordination between different agencies is also plaguing the working of CCTVs.JOINT INSPECTIONOn Monday, the BMC and Railways carried out a joint inspection of FOBs falling under the civic body’s jurisdiction. During the visit, assistant commissioner of respective wards and officials from the bridge department were present.

Mumbai’s lifeline turns fatal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In April 1853, Mumbai’s first train made its humble beginning as it chugged between Boribundar and Tanna. Over the century, Mumbai’s suburban railway system evolved into a lifeline for commuters in the metropolitan city. However, the Railway’s apathy in carrying out much needed upgrades and maintenance has led to a crumbling infrastructure that deteriorates with each passing decade, snuffing out lives of Mumbaikars. The over 76 lakh daily commuters on the suburban system have a battle on their hands each day, as the Railways struggles to expand its network in Mumbai and the city’s extended metropolitan region.An emergency meeting on September 30, a day after the tragic stampede at Elphinstone Road station that claimed 23 lives, called by Union Rail Minister Piyush Goyal focused on the dire need for extensive input into the city’s suburban rail system. In the mishap’s wake, authorities have now been forced to swing into action in an effort to clean up the mess.DNA does a deep dive into analysing the possible reasons that are leading to the systematic collapse of this critical mode of transport in the nation’s financial capital.Trains that can’t keep up with commutersAs if to reiterate the fact that Mumbai’s suburban rail system is the city’s lifeline, in the last 10 years, the number of daily train services operated by Central (CR) and Western Railways (WR) has increased by 125 per cent.It has proven to be a major challenge for the Railways to ferry daily commuters whose numbers have gone up by 112 per cent during the same period. This leaves little space inside trains as people travel to and from work cramped like cattle.In 2007-08 there were 67.82 lakh people travelling everyday which went up to 76.22 lakh daily commuters until September this year.Despite the railways augmenting from 9-car to 12-car on Main and Harbour lines, it hasn’t come as respite from the overcrowding inside coaches. The WR authorities, with little capacity to augment on existing lines, have been struggling more than the CR.Inside a general compartment, the railway authorities claim that the space has been augmented to 21 persons per sq meter from the earlier 16 persons per sq meter. Ideally this means that the capacity of each compartment of a 12-car train has risen from 450 per coach to 593 per coach. At the start of the decade, in 2009-10 the WR were operating 1,210 services which has increased to 1,355 services until September this year. In the same period, the CR’s daily services have increased from 1,412 to 1,660.”In the new timetable, we have used the fifth line between Andheri and Virar so that more services can be put into service. There is little scope of curtailing the headway that stands at four minutes,” said a senior WR official.Surprisingly both CR and WR have seen a fall in daily commuters after 2014-15 that stood at 75.58 lakh to 74.14 lakh in 2015-16.It took nine years for both CR and WR authorities to augment by 500 services. Such is the case despite more and better rakes being bought under phase 1 and 2 of Mumbai Urban Transport Projects. Both the railways together are operating five 15-car trains – of which four are operated by WR – in a bid to supplement capacity by 33 per cent. Even the Railway minister Piyush Goyal had demanded more 15-car trains though certain sections of his own department believe that such a move would kill the rail schedule.Passing the buck between agenciesThe coordination between various agencies like Central and Western Railways, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, Government Railway Police, Urban Development Department and other departments of the state government form the cogs of a wheel that never runs smoothly as each of these agencies have their own unresolved issues.The latest example was in the aftermath of the stampede at Elphinstone Road station. The WR is unable to get BMC land for construction of a new FOB. This, despite the fact that it has been a year since the erstwhile Railway minister Suresh Prabhu gave his clearance for a new bridge.The bureaucrats heading these agencies rarely accommodate projects implemented by other organisations. This is one of the most significant reasons behind inordinate delays of multi-crore projects which lead to loss of public money. In 2014-15, a joint fortnightly meeting was to be held between various agencies. However, within a few weeks, inter-agency issues persisted.On September 30, railway minister Piyush Goyal highlighted this shortcoming and its repercussions. According to sources, at the meeting Goyal questioned the heads of BMC and Railways for a solution to waterlogging on rail tracks. Both agencies brought forward flaws like narrow uncleaned culverts and garbage thrown on tracks. Railway officials said that Goyal directed both organisations to resolve the situation before next year’s monsoon. The organisations have now started working on identifying problematic spots.Vacating illegal homes, rehabilitating people and acquiring land for rail projects is the toughest task for state agencies as they are busy identifying the owners of these lands which are encroached upon. For instance, after the land slide on Parsik Hill in 2015, which tumbled down on rail lines, the next few days passed in deciding whether the Thane Municipal Corporation or Forest Department owned the land. In another case, an entire slum pocket of Behrampada in Bandra east belongs to the Railways but due to inter-agency apathy and lack of political will, demolition proves futile.Railway tracks that killOvercrowded coaches, poor infrastructure at stations and red tapeism is the concoction that leads to deaths on the railway tracks. On one hand we call the suburban railway system the city’s lifeline but unfortunately at least 8 to 10 people die on the rail tracks of Mumbai everyday. One of the biggest reasons is trespassing which contributes over 65 per cent of the deaths.”The teams that are scrutinising the railway stations over various safety parameters are also checking points where trespassing is heavy,” said a railway official. Most of these happen near slum pockets that are close to the railway lines. On the Western Railway, these are areas like Mahim, Bandra, Santacruz, Jogeshwari, Malad, and Virar while on Central Railway, Kurla, Govandi, Mankhurd, Diva and Wadala have slums and buildings close to the rail lines.The solution to this problem requires multiple agencies. In such cases, the BMC is expected to demolish illegal slums, MMRDA is expected to rehabilitate the people and then hand over the land to the railways. Political parties are equally responsible for disallowing government machinery from doing their work as many of these slums are also vote banks.Then is the overcrowding inside trains which usually happens during morning and evening peak hours. In the past, there have been cases in which people have fallen off running trains while hanging dangerously on crowded foot-boards and at times even hitting the pole. Railway officials claim that the number of deaths due to overcrowding has reduced after upgrading the trains to 12-car.In 2012, there were 3,543 deaths; in 2016, 3,208 people died on the tracks; and the number of deaths on rail premises up to September this year stands at 2,221. The year-on-year figures show that the number of deaths on tracks are falling however the number of people injured remains more or less stagnant. In 2012, at least 3,707 people were injured, which came down to 3,451 in 2016 and until now 2,519 commuters have been injured.In 2017, the GRP station at Kalyan station has registered the maximum deaths with 286 cases followed by Kurla (248), Thane (240), Dombivli (124), Wadala (116), CST (100), Panvel (55) on the CR while on the WR, Borivli saw 222 registered cases of death followed by Vasai (169), Mumbai Central (112), Dadar (87), Andheri (84), Bandra (79) and Churchgate (33).Crumbling infrastructureMany stations in Mumbai’s suburban areas have been constructed during the British era and feature old stone and metal framed foot (FOBs) and road-overbridges. The stone-walled barracks (turned into offices now), arched roofs, pillars, benches and clocks still have GIPR (Great Indian Peninsular Railway) inscribed all over them. The tragic incident at Elphinstone Road station was a cruel reminder of the crumbling infrastructure that shouts for urgent repairs.Staircases of these old FOBs are barely two meters wide while the pathways are supported by rusty railings, most of which lead to commercial offices and skyscrapers. People are forced to push and nudge fellow commuters while climbing the staircases on FOBs on their way to narrow and crowded platforms and pathways. And during the annual monsoon, the situation only worsens.”We have constructed 20 FOBs and nearly 15 escalators in last three years,” said an official from Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, the planning agency for the metropolis. These are apart from those built by WR and CR authorities. The new ones are up to 12 meters wide but their staircases continue to be narrow.Although the condition of a few stations in the city has improved in recent years with better inter-connectivity, FOBs and waste bins; spitting and garbage thrown on railway premises continues to be a problem. Other components like leaky and incomplete roofs, broken tiles on platforms and staircases make stations wholly inconvenient to daily commuters.The quality of rakes, its speeds and seats have improved after the Railways procured newer ones under MUTP-1 and 2. However, the maintenance of rakes, tracks, overhead wires and signals continues to be an issue resulting in constant failures, frequent derailments, rail fractures, unit failures and OHE cables snapping.Over the past few months there have been several derailments across Indian Railways which proves the apathy runs across the national system. The slow pace of improvement works namely addition of tracks and rail lines worsens the situation. Even passenger amenities like ATVMs have become a joke with many not functioning and cash-coin-vending machines more or less out of operation which forces people to wait in serpentine queues for their tickets. In the meantime, the MUTP phases have witnessed escalation of crores of rupees of public money since 2006.NO SOLUTION IN SIGHTDespite the railways augmenting from 9-car to 12-car on Main and Harbour lines, which increased the capacity of each compartment in a 12-car train from 450 per coach to 593 per coach, it hasn’t come as a respite from the overcrowding inside coaches as the number of daily commuters has steadily risen over the yearsOLD AND OVERLOADEDSeveral stations in suburban areas have been constructed during the British era and feature old stone and metal framed FOBs and road-overbridges. The stone-walled barracks, arched roofs, pillars, benches and clocks still have Great Indian Peninsular Railway inscribed on them. Staircases of most these old FOBs are barely two meters wide, forcing commuters to push each other during peak hours, while the pathways are supported by rusty railings.WHO IS TAKING OWNERSHIP?After the land slide on Parsik Hill in 2015, which tumbled down on rail lines, the next few days passed in deciding whether the Thane Municipal Corporation or Forest Department owned the land. In another case, an entire slum pocket of Behrampada in Bandra east belongs to the Railways but due to inter-agency apathy and lack of political will, demolition proves futile.

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