A Learning Experience for Indian Railways

“Festivals” are a dominant part of our lifestyle and culture in India. If you are someone who lives far away from your family, festivals provide you a great opportunity to meet your family. You have to get disappointed when you check out for the indian railway reservation seat availability enquiry, if you don’t plan in advance at such times. It shouldn’t be a big concern for you if you are ready to travel by air. However, we don’t want you to pay some extra bucks, when you can get the job done for much less than that. Of late, this scenario is slowly changing. Availing train tickets for short distances (400 to 700 kms) have become relatively easier than getting air tickets.

What were you doing on the last Dussehra…?

The valid example for the above point made would be the time of Dussehra in 2015. All the students from schools and colleges, employees from offices were granted holidays for a week. A huge crowd and high demand for the railways was anticipated. However, much to the surprise of railway officials and travelers, train enquiry seat availability revealed that many coaches were running with vacant seats. On the other hand, the air tickets were simply unavailable. Another interesting point to be noted here is that the fare of executive class train ticket is barely a couple of hundreds cheaper than the air ticket for the same distance!


Wondering what could the reason for this…?

You might have taken by surprise as you have skipped through the above lines. Now, check the factors which greatly influenced this scenario:

  • Fall in crude oil prices: The majority of the credit goes to the marginal fall of crude oil prices in the recent past years. This fall in prices has allowed the air lines to lower their fares without affecting its profit significantly.
  • New railway connections: Indian railways have put their efforts to establish multiple connections between different cities. The targeted tracks were the cities, which were 400 to 700 kilometers apart. The passengers are left numerous options in railways than in airways for the same route. This has divided the railway traffic.

The combination of above stated factors have made the passengers to chose air ways even though the fares of railways was just marginally lower than that of airways.

Something to learn for our railway authorities:

This incident has provided the necessity to revive the existing railway system. Plans are made to implement a dynamic fare fixing system in our railways. Before taking decisions on increasing the capacity by introducing new lines, the traffic managers should analyze the existing competitive market and anticipate the possible abnormal passenger behavior. Special care has to be taken in the phase, where crude oil prices are relatively lower. The air ways try to exploit this low price by decreasing the fares. Apart from these issues, Indian railways has also stepped ahead to make complete use of growing IT in India. The online ticket sales platform has made the ticket booking cancellation procedures relatively easy. In the long run, Indian railways have aimed to increase the standards of trains and stations.

How Does “Privatization Of Indian Railways” Sound…?

Our railways have made efforts to increase the standards of the trains, provided ease of access to the passengers by enabling them to check the pnr status on mobile sms and build new tracks. Though the Indian railways have shown appreciable performance over the past few years, there is an argument that it is still far beyond its capacity. Indian railways have a severe capacity constraint. It is because of this reason; the railways weren’t able to capitalize on the increasing demand of freight transport. National Transport Development Policy has passed several suggestions to increase the orientation of railways towards the commercial sector.

Booster shots of privatization:

There were a few suggestions to privatize the railways to some extent so as to ensure reliable performance. The following are the expected outcomes of privatization:

  • Indian railways have targeted to increase a track length of about 2,500 kilometers every year. However, it only manages to increase about 180 kilometers. Privatization provides the flexibility of sharing the expenses with the private firms.
  • It is to be noted that over 10% of the railways income is utilized to run its noncore activities like schools and hospitals. Outsourcing these activities would turn as a huge sigh of relief to the railways.pnrst
  • A few major railways projects are delayed for a variety of reasons. The best way to put an end to this time lag is to divide the railways into smaller companies. Projects can be executed in the least time possible by doing so.

Inspiration from Japan and Argentina:

Experts suggest that the mix of reforms that took place in Japan and Argentina can be implemented here in India to boost its standards like never before. The above statements of privatization have their roots in these countries. Prior privatizing the railways in Japan, it suffered a huge loss of about $50 million per day. However, the further consequences have made it to lose its autonomy over railways.

  • Japan railway reforms: All the services were split into joint stock companies as a part of their reforms. Six major firms took up the responsibility of passenger services whereas the freight was handled by a single company. Another reputed corporation takes care of the bullet train services. A distinct body is setup to clear the historical debt of Japanese railways. These reforms have increased the profit earned by the railways and also lowered the risk of accidents.
  • Argentina railway reforms: Argentina showed their interest in privatization after incurring huge losses of $1.4 billion annually. This strategy allows bidders to quote their bids to take up the servicing and maintenance tasks. This greatly helped Argentina to cut down their expenses incurred on its subsidies to commuter services.

However, the practicality of these reforms isn’t easy with India railways. Indian railways comprises of 17 administrative zones; 8,000 railway stations; 15,000 trains and over 13 lakh employees. These numbers speak about the vastness of our railways. The Indian government isn’t in favor of privatization, as it can’t subsidize the poor passengers.

Indian Railways Signs MoU with ISRO for Technology Transfer

Today, Indian Railways signed a MoU with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) for using space technology for remote sensing and GIS (Graphics Information System) based applications.

 The MoU will facilitate utilization of space technology to provide information about passengers to all trains, tracking of all trains in real time, indication of next stop/ next station and survey of fresh alignments of rail routes, especially in difficult and hilly terrains.

It will also help in asset mapping, conducting of studies of vulnerability of tracks, audio-visual systems of warning for road users at gates of unmanned level crossings and introducing web-enabled user-centric services.

At present, railways are already utilizing space technology to provide connectivity to counters of Passenger Reservation System (PRS) and unreserved ticketing system at non-rail head and remote locations.

Other than this, technology is utilized for emergency communication from disaster sites, GPS (Global Positioning System) for several applications such as remote monitoring of locomotives, information system for passengers in Mumbai suburban trains, synchronized clocks and provision of Wi-Fi in special Rajdhani trains.

At the function, minister of state for railways, Manoj Sinha made a request to ISRO to conduct a study for finding methods to enable smooth rail traffic, especially in the foggy season.

Mr. Sinha said that such a study should be conducted by ISRO to help trains run smoothly in fogging season, which will be a big accomplishment as usually railways comes to a stop during certain seasons.

At the occasion, railways minister Suresh Prabhu said that the tie-up between ISRO and Indian Railways was not a ‘mere marriage of convenience but a marriage of necessity’.  Indian Railways would use the services of ISRO for several works related to up-gradation of technology like providing train time table.

According to the MoU, the Railway minister said that space technology tools will be used to provide passenger information system in every train, next stoppage of train, station and train tracking in real time.

The meeting featured senior officials of both ISRO and Indian Railways. Minister Suresh Prabhu said that signing of MoU with ISRO was of very vital importance as the latest technology from ISRO will be helpful to solve day to day problems faced by the Indian Railways.

He said that Indian Railways was a great organization, and it would do well to partner with another important organization, the ISRO. It was time for the Railways to adopt the latest technology, he said. The Railways was to be modernized with adoption of technological innovation.

Another minister, Dr. Jitendra Singh said that the MoU was a breakthrough for the ISRO to provide new technology to the Indian Railways. It was a misconception that ISRO’s activities are related to only the sector of space. For instance, it had helped the Ministry of Urban Development recently for developing smart cities.

He said that the ISRO could help not only in disaster management but also for normal, routine activities of the Indian Railways. Technology provided is cost effective as well as efficient and accurate.

New Committees and Trains in the Offing

In an effort to improve quality and efficiency of train services, the Indian Railways is setting up consultative committees at various levels as well as arranging for election special trains targeting Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

The committees will be able to consult and contribute to railways administration, as informed to the parliament by the Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha.

The aim behind announcing such committees was to connect railway administration with end users and various levels of the railway department so that quality of services could be improved. The committees would ensure better representation for travellers with railways administration.

He said that at the ministry level, there would be a National Railway Users consultative committee. At the head quarters level, there would be a zonal committee and at the divisional level, there would be zonal committees.pnr

There would also be consultative committees for suburban railway users at South Eastern, Eastern, Southern, Western and Central Railways. There would be station committees at select, important stations.

An example for improving efficiency was that the ministry had taken a series of actions like cancelling contracts after it received almost 5000 complaints about catering on long distance and premium trains, lodged last year.

Action taken includes warning in over 1000 cases, fines in over 2000 cases and termination of contract in one case , all awarded as per gravity of offence.

The minister announced a slew of new measures: 10 sophisticated and mechanized base kitchen operated by IRCTC, extending e-catering services from 45 major stations to all A and A-1 class stations, introducing multi-purpose stalls at stations and making catering services optional rather than mandatory in trains. Passengers can book meals after checking PNR status railway.

The minister also suggested that Indian Railways may run Election special trains similar to festival special trains. This would be introduced to cater to demand in the peak season during election time, on particular routes.

The minister informed Lok Sabha that such special trains have been planned thanks to the growing demand. In reply to a supplementary, he said that suggestions given by MPs would be kept in mind.

The supplementary did not address the purpose of an election special train. But the minster noted that the there was great demand for such trains especially for natives of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh who are working in other states and wanted to vote for elections being conducted in native states.

Many workers preferred not to change their constituencies when they travel to other places for work. This was despite the notice given by the Election Commission that workers in other states are free to vote in these states after filling up two forms: one to get enrolled in the electoral rolls of the new place and second to cancel their names form electoral rolls of their native state.

In response to another question, the Minister said that Antyodaya trains will operate on regular fares, but Hamsafar and Tejas trains would run on ‘dynamic pricing.’

Northern Railways runs Holi Special trains!

The Indian Railways is always ready with something for every festival, since Holi is just around the corner; the Northern Railways has already started running weekly exclusive trains. Read on to know more details: –

The railway line will run a weekly exclusive train from Gorakhpur to Bandra Terminus from the 3rd March to the 31st. This train is scheduled for every Thursday while the one from Bandra to Gorakhpur will be on every Saturday. An official press release stated that this weekly special will halt at several stations like Lucknow, Barabanki, Basti, Khalilabad, Kanpur Central, Kannauj, Mathura Jn, Kota, Bharatpur, Vadodara, Nagda, Surat, Virar, Borivali and many other stations.modified-1400-hp-engine

There are two other trains from Bhubaneswar to Patna and Puri to Bhanjapur too, which will run during this festive time. The former train will be running on March 18th and 25th while the latter will be running on March 19th and 26th.

The Bhubaneswar to Patna train will be stopped at stations like Jaipur, Asansol, Cuttack, Bhadrak, Hijli, Mokama and many others. The Puri to Bhanjapur train will stop at stations like Khurda Road, Jajpur, Rupsa, Balasore, Soro, Bhubaneswar, and many others. Also, this train will be discontinued on March 26th.

All these trains are meant to lessen the berserk crowd during this festive time.

Konkan Railway announces a special train for Holi 2016!

While the Northern, Eastern and Central Railway lines are already running weekly special trains for the Holi time, Konkan Railway is not stepping behind. The railway line will be running an exclusive train for the Holi festival for passengers. The route will be from Madgaon to Mumbai CST to Madgaon again. This is to keep the rush of passengers in control during this time.

holi special train
The Madgaon to Mumbai CST train will be running on March 8th and will come back on March 9th to CST again. This will go back to Madgaon on the same day. So, if you want to travel to Madgaon for few hours and return, you have this incredible option. The train will be halting at several important stations like Ratnagiri, Khed, Karmali, Kudal, Dadar, Thane, Roha, Madgaon, Chiplun, Sawantwadi and many others.

This train will be helpful for those who just want to travel within a span of 2 days to Madgaon and come back to Mumbai.

Eastern Railways announces special weekly trains for Holi!

The rush during the festive time at the railway stations is berserk. To cope up with it and to avoid any kind of pushing or excessive rush, the Eastern Railways will be running 3 sets of exclusive trains from the Kolkata to Gorakhpur to Asansol route, Howard to Patna route and Howrah to Raxaul route. These special trains will only be in action during this month for the festival of Holi.

The first train, which is the Kolkata to Gorakhpur route will be running on the March 21st and will be terminating from Gorakhpur to Asansol the next day. This train will offer a general second class, sleeper class and air-condition coaches. modified-1400-hp-engine
The second train which is the Howrah to Patna route will be running on the 20th March and will reach Patna the very next day. This train will be returning to Howrah on the 21st of March. This train is going to have on general second class.

The third train which is the Howrah to Raxaul route will be running on the 22nd March and will leave from Raxaul station on 25th March. It will reach Howrah station the next day. This train too only offers general second coaches like the second train.

So, make your bookings quickly to go comfortably and avoid the crowd during this festive time.

Central Railways has special Holi trains for passengers!

The Indian Railways is always looking for some or the other way to bring comfort to the passengers especially during the festive season. Most of the trains will be halting at Thane. The trains will be for Nagpur, Karmali, Bhatni and Gorakhpur.

The first train, LokmanyaTilak to Karmali will be running on 18th and 25th March. This train will arrive back to LokmanyaTilak Terminus the next day. The main stations at which this train will halt are Ratnagiri, Chiplun, Roha, Khed, Panvel, Kudal, Thivim, Sawantwadi Road and Thane.

The second train, Mumbai CST to Karmali will be running on the 19th and 26th March. This will return back from Karmali the same day. This special train will be halting at Thane, Dadar, Roha, Panvel, Chiplun, Kudal, Khed, Ratnagiri, Sawantwadi Road, Thivim and Kankavali.

The third train, LokmanyaTilak to Bhatni will be running on 18th and 25th March. This train will be leaving from Bhatni station on the 19th and the 26th March. This special train is going to halt at stations like Nasik Road, Thane, Kalyan, Itarsi, Bhusaval, Katni, Jabalpur, Satna, Allahabad, Azamgarh, Mau and many other important routes.

The fourth train, LokmanyaTilak to Nagpur will be running on the 22nd and 29th March. This will return back to the LokmanyaTilak Terminus the next day. This weekly special will be halting at Nasik Road, Thane, Kalyan, Wardha, Bhuswal, Badnera, Akola, Pulgaon, Jalgaon, Manmd, Igatpuri, Dhamangaon and Malkapur.

The reservations have been open from the 4th of March. So start booking your train to celebrate Holi with your family and friends.

Do You Know The Financial Status Of Indian Railways?

Indian railway is running through a tough phase in the recent past years. The traffic in the railways stations seems to be diluting significantly. This in turn affected the revenue of the department. This undesirable drift in the Indian railways has forced the authorities to take advantage of every possible way of improving the revenue. The revenues have dropped drastically to a single digit…! Let’s have a deeper insight into these issues:

    • The passenger earnings are anticipated to grow by 16.7 percent. However, the whole department was taken by surprise, when the earnings were dropped from 15% from last year to 7% for the present year. This is absolutely nowhere close to the expected growth.

    • It is interesting to note that Railways earn more than two fifths of their revenue from freight traffic. In this context of freight traffic, the railways have witnessed an increase of 8.5 million tons against the estimated increase of 85 million tons!

  • In such unfavorable conditions, the railways department has successfully controlled their working expenditure. Talking about the numbers involved here, the working expenditure increased just by 1.5% against the estimated value of 9.6%.

  • Apart from the revenue crisis, the railways has to bear an additional burden of 32 thousand crore rupees to pay towards implementing the seventh pay commission recommendations. Adding to this, the budgetary support has sliced 8 thousand crore rupees due to the low spending by our railways.

  • When you check out for the Indian railway PNR this time, note that the fares are likely to get increased by 5 to 10 percent in the coming budget sessions. Though the hiking of railway fares is strongly believed to be a politically unpopular move, the railways are left with no other option.

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    • If the railways have to consider other options of getting revenue, it is through the monetization of the existing assets. The authorities are going to have a keen eye on these aspects.

    ow the railway plan for the coming season…? It targets to improve the daily passenger carrying capacity from 21 million to 30 million. A 20% increase of the track length is likely to take place in the coming year. Finally, the freight carrying capacity is all set to increase from 1 billion to 1.5 billion tones. Not to forget that, Indian railways always had a passion for modernized infrastructure and the same is reflected in their actions.

  • The above targets seem to be highly impossible to accomplish with the current status of our railway revenue. It is estimated that 8.5 lakh crores will be required by our railways to reach their targets. Several world organizations have accepted to aid financially in this context.

  • BK committee has made several suggestions to increase the revenue of the railways. One such suggestion is creative financing. The public and the private investments will be a part of this plan. It is estimated that, this method can generate a whooping revenue of 3,29,800 crores.

The Indian railway is likely to concentrate on the steps to increase the freight revenue. It shouldn’t be a surprise for us, if it starts to explore the untapped areas like auto and FMCG, in search of revenue.

Railways Announced Special Trains for Holi 2016!

Holi festival is just around the corner and most of us are all set to visit our relatives for this season. The Indian Railways has already announced a list of exclusive trains to keep the rush comfortable. Northern, Central, Eastern and Konkan railway are all set to run these special trains for the passengers. The idea behind this is to keep the rush in control during the festive time. If you are planning to travel from one of these railway lines, here is more information you need: –

  1. Northern Railway –

    The Northern railway will be running weekly special trains between the Gorakhpur and Bandra line from the 3rd to the 31st of March for Holi. The festival is falling on 23rd March this year, and since people will start travelling early, the trains are already in action. These weekly trains have several stops in between like, Basti, Barabanki, Kanpur Central, Lucknow, Kannauj. Mathura Jn, Kota, Vodadora, Surat, Borivali, etc. There is also going to be two exclusive trains from Bhubaneswar and Patna, Puri and Bhanjapur. These will run on Fridays, which is the March 18th and on the 25th. The Patna – Bhubaneswar one will be on Saturdays, which is the March 19th and the 26th. The former train will be discontinued from March 26th.modified-1400-hp-engine
  2. Central Railway –

    The Central Railway will be running from and to Mumbai to various different locations during this festive time. Most of the trains will be halting at Thane station. The railway line has started running trains from March 4th to Nagpur, Gorakhpur, Bhatni and Karmali. The LokmanyaTilak Terminus to Karmali train will run on March 18th and 25th. There are also going to trains from CST station to Karmali to CST again, which are weekly specials. These trains are scheduled from March 19th to 26th. On March 21st and 28thspecial train from CST to Gorkhapur will run for the people, who are travelling to the north side. From March 18th to 26th, weekly specials from LTT to BhatniJn will run and LTT to Nagpur special trains will run on March 22nd and 29th
  3. Eastern Railway –

    To make the rush a little less, the Eastern Railway too will be running 3 sets of exclusive trains on these routes – Kolkata – Gorakhpur – Asansol, Howrah – RaxaulJansadharan Holi Special and Howrah – Patna Jansadharan Holi Special. The Kolkata- Gorakhpur train will run on March 21st. The Howrah- Patna train will run on the March 20th and the Howrah- Raxaul train will run on March 22nd. All these trains will run back and forth, so passengers can come back to the city or go to another through the same routes.
  4. Konkan Railway – The Konkan Railway hasn’t stepped behind in supporting with the rush control during Holi festival. A special train from Madgaon to Mumbai CST to Madgaon will run on the 8th of March. This train will be halting at several spots in between like Karmali, Kudal, Ratnagiri, Khed, Chiplun, Panvel, Dadar, Thane, etc.

If you are planning to head out of your city for Holi, you have a bunch of incredible trains at your service.