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From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: CBI reports on Sharief assets

Date: 10 Jan 1997 11:52:00 -0500


BANGALORE, Jan 10 (DHNS)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today submitted to the High
Court its preliminary report on the investigation into the suspect
unlawful acquisition of immovable property by former Union Railway
minister C K Jaffer Sharief and his family members in and around
Bangalore City.

The CBI presented the report before the High Court in a sealed cover
with a request to keep the same under wraps until the final report was
submitted. The CBI told the court that further investigation in the
case would be impeded if the report was made public.

The CBI had opened the inquiry on oral instructions of the High Court
after former BWSSB chief engineer Somashekar Reddy filed a writ
alleging the unlawful acquisition of immovable property by the former
railway minister and his kin.

The petitioner`s lawyer requested a copy of the CBI`s preliminary
report, but Mr Justice T S Thakur refused to oblige. The next hearing
of the case has been fixed for January 16.

From: Vadivelu Elumalai <vadi@altagroup.email

Subject: Bangalore-Coimbatore Shatabdi Express likely soon

Date: 12 Jan 1997 13:19:00 -0500


THE HINDU

SALEM, Jan. 11.

While the Railways have already announced operation of a passenger train
from Salem to Bangalore from tomorrow (Jan 12), it proposes to operate a
Shatabdi Express between Bangalore and Coimbatore also very soon, Mr. M.
M. Ravindra, Member, Railway Board, told presspersons today.

The proposed Shatabdi Express would be operated from April 1. Adverting to
the Dindigul-Tiruchi-Madras gauge conversion project, he said it was
progressing fast.

Meanwhile, the Railway Passengers' Association, Salem, is furious with the
timings fixed by the Railways even for the express trains passing through
Salem to Bangalore in the new line.

Dr. P. Srinivasan, Secretary of the association, told The Hindu it is quite illogical
and beat's one's comprehension.'' He points out that as per the announcement
of the Railways, the proposed Passenger train will take six hours for Salem to
Bangalore and 5 hours and 40 minutes from Bangalore to Salem. it will stop at
all the 14 intermediate stations.

But, the Kanyakumari-Bangalore Express, (which is one among the trains to
be diverted through this new section in order to ease the congestion on the
Salem-Jolarpet-Bangalore sections) will depart from Salem at 00.10 hours to
reach Bangalore at 5-45 a.m. (i.e.) 5 hours and 35 minutes. ``This will have
only Dharmapuri and Hosur stops. Is it not ridiculous to say that it will take so
much of time for less than 200 km''.

Even with regard to weekly trains (which are also to be divereted through this
section) like Nagercoil-Gandhidham Express, it takes 5 hours and 55 minutes
to reach Bangalore from Salem (01.20 _ 07.15). The Quilon-Bangalore
Express departs from Salem at 4-40 a.m. to reach bangalore at 10-15 a.m.

Besides, he points out that the Kovai Express takes only 4 hours and 50
minutes to traverse a distance of 330 km from Salem to Chennai and the West
Coast Express takes 5 hours and 30 minutes to traverse the same distance. ``I
wonder how Railways could fix the same duration of journey for a distance
which is more than 130 km less.''

When the railway officials have claimed that the track is so modernised with all
concrete sleepers and capable of operating trains even at a speed of 140 to 160
km per hour, ``we are unable to understand why even the Express trains
(which are rarely going to be of any use to Salem passengers as such unless
there is substantial quota) should be so slow .''

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Rail users criticise slow pace of gauge conversion

Date: 20 Jan 1997 07:44:00 -0500


The Hindu
MADURAI, Jan. 18.

While the Southern Railways has been trying to expand its
activities through gauge conversions and introducing trains with
greater capacity, the pace of implementing such works is not
commensurate with the requirements of the travelling public. Already
various units of the Chambers of Commerce in Tamil Nadu have urged the
Centre to convert the metre gauge section between Dindigul and
Chingleput expeditiously by allocating more funds.

But the Centre has only increased the duration of travel
on the Madurai-Chennai sector in recent months and now it takes more
than 12 hours. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Sattur had
complained that the Kanyakumari Express on broad gauge was always
behind the schedule when it reached Chennai via Madurai.

The frequent users of the Vaigai Express, which once
travelled at 100 kmph do not understand as to why the speed was
reduced as in the case of other trains. The passengers also say that
leaving Madurai around 6-30 a.m. by Vaigai Express and reaching
Chennai just before 3 p.m. proved to be pretty tedious.

Another popular express train, the Pandiyan Express,
invariably runs behind the schedule on both directions nowadays. Many
among the travelling public feel that these metre gauge trains need
not be made to stop at Villupuram and Tiruchi for a long time. Even if
the engine or electric locomotive is to be changed at Villupuram, the
time taken could be minimised to not beyond 15 minutes.

The Railway authorities should remember that the omni buses
posed great competition to the Railways, as a bus leaving Madurai at
7- 30 p.m., reaches Chennai at 5 a.m. the next day. The only
difference, of course, is that the train journey is more
comfortable. Also accidents are too frequent on the road. Another
reason attributed to people's preference to bus travel is the lesser
fare compared to that of the train. A Madurai-Chennai passenger pays
around Rs. 110 for bus while he has to shell out Rs. 150 for train
journey.

Thanks to the careful planning of the Railways and the
introduction of many new trains on the Chennai-Madurai sector, the
income by way of passenger and cargo traffic has also increased
considerably. But comfortwise, the consensus seems to be that taking
nearly 12 hours to cover 491 kilometres looks ridiculous nowadays,
that too when the faster trains in North India have been covering the
same distance in six to seven hours. But it is high time something is
done to make the Railways popular again.

From: db2adm <db2adm@VNET.email

Subject: Chugging across the Rajasthan desert by steam engine...

Date: 22 Jan 1997 05:02:00 -0500


Rediff

Chugging across the Rajasthan desert by steam engine...

Reliving the romance of steam engines, the 150-year-old Fairy
Queen -- the prime exhibit at the National Rail Museum, New Delhi
for 25 years -- will roll again in February, commemorating the
museum's Foundation Day.

"The attraction of the Fairy Queen is that a 150-year-old steam
engine will haul the train, unlike the Palace on Wheels and other
trains where the tourists mainly go for the charm of the interior
of the coaches," says the museum's assistant curator Sreenivasan.

The coaches are the regular first class chair car coaches, typical
of what one may find in trains like the Shatabdi Express. The two
coaches -- one for the passengers and the other a pantry car --
will travel at a speed of 40 kilometres per hour. The coaches will
be shunted in from Bombay in a few days.

The two day trip will cost US $ 500 or approximately Rs 15,000.
The ticket price includes lodging, boarding and train fare. The
International Tourist Bureau says seven bookings have already been
made. Fortythree places on the 50-seater coach are still
available. Incidentally, all the passengers who booked places on
the once-in-a-lifetime journey so far are Indians. Ravi Sharma,
manager, ITB, expects the train to be full up by February 1 when
the train departs Delhi station.

The Oberoi group of hotels has offered to provide the attendants
and catering, free of cost. The Rajasthan Tourism Development
Corporation will look after the boarding and lodging for the
passengers at Alwar.

1855. The year when the majestic Fairy Queen rolled out for the
East Indian Railway. The engine is probably the oldest working
engine in the world. Now after 141 years, the Fairy Queen rolls
again on February 1, from Delhi.

The Fairy Queen reaches the picturesque town of Alwar in Rajasthan
the same day, from where the guests will be taken to the Sariska
Tiger Reserve for an overnight stay. Alwar is one of the oldest
cities in Rajasthan and a tourist's delight with its prehistoric
sites and monuments. Remarkable among these monuments is the City
Palace which houses some of Alwar's legendary treasures. Other
places of interest are the Moosi Maharani Chaatri, the Vinay Vilas
Palace and the Moti Doongri Fortress.

Sariska is famous for its tiger reserve where magnificent tigers,
leopards, deer like the sambhars, nilgai and chikara can be
spotted in their natural habitat. The town also has the ruins of
9th and 10th century temples.

Schedule

* Departure from Delhi: February 1, 1997 at 1000 hours.

* Arrival at Alwar: February 1, 1997 at 1600 hours.

* Departure from Alwar: February 2, 1997 at 1300 hours.

* Arrival at Delhi:February 2, 1997 at 1920 hours.

From: db2adm <db2adm@VNET.email

Subject: Fairy Queen

Date: 25 Jan 1997 09:11:00 -0500


Old India Steam Engine Revived
By RAMOLA TALWAR Associated Press Writer
January 25, 1997

NEW DELHI, India (AP) Memories of the days
when trains belched smoke and emitted
piercing whistles send buffs searching the
globe for a ride behind a vintage engine.
Now they can add India to the list of
stations where nostalgia lives. The 142-
year-old Fairy Queen will soon begin tourist
excursions from New Delhi.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Fare hike: Paswan awaiting word from PM

Date: 30 Jan 1997 04:22:00 -0500



The Hindu
NEW DELHI, Jan. 30.

As has been the case during the previous years,
the Railway Minister, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, is waiting for word from
the Prime Minister over the amount of Central Budgetary grants the
railways will receive before taking a decision on revising freight and
passenger fares. The Minister is scheduled to formally interact with
the Union Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission over the issue.

The North Block, citing the squeeze, on funds, is
unlikely to take a sympathetic view for a substantial hike in
Budgetary support which would allow the railways to side-step fare
increases. According to sources, the Planning Commission has already
said a firm no to increasing the Budgetary support.

The only hope left is the Prime Minister with
Mr. Paswan having suggested that construction of new lines and
augmenting services in less developed areas is also developmental
activity of sorts. Therefore, a small portion of the funds earmarked
under various developmental schemes should be diverted as Budgetary
grant to the Railways.

The Railway Board has already proposed substantial
hikes in passenger and freight rates in order to enable them to carry
out developmental and modernisation activities promised by the Railway
Minister. The strain on railway finances has been relieved to some
extent by the declaration of two expensive new line projects as
national projects. While the Udhampur-Baramulla line will cost
Rs. 2,500 crores, the 350-km-long Kumarghat- Agartala line in the
North-East will also be a costly proposition. Now their funding
requirements will be taken care of by the Centre.

This new means of funding two costly projects does
alleviate the resource crunch to some extent. But the Planning
Commission has made their task difficult by proposing that the five
annual plans during the Ninth Five Year Plan period should total
Rs. 65,000 crores. This means that for the year 1996-97, the railways
are faced with a staggering task of arranging for Rs. 11,000 crores,
the highest increase ever on a year-to-year basis.

With the railways already struggling to meet the
current year's Plan size which is nearly Rs. 3,000 crores less,
sources close to Mr. Paswan are suggesting that there will be no
escape from a fare hike unless the Centre Government loosens its purse
strings.

Of the Rs. 11,000 crores as the annual plan size
for next year, budgetary support has been suggested at a staggering 45
per cent or Rs. 4,650 crores, more than double that of the last
year. Mr. Paswan has suggested that one-third of this support should
come by way of ``public service obligations.'' The Railways are forced
to perform by running trains on chronically loss making branch lines
and to the suburbs of most metros. Of the remainder, 30 per cent or
just over Rs. 3,000 crores is supposed to be from internal resource
generation and the remainder nearly Rs. 2,500 crores _ from market
borrowings, including private sector investments under the build-
operate -lease -transfer (BOLT) route.

Reaching the target in each of these sectors,
except arranging Rs. 3,000 crores from its own resources, appears to
be a tall order for the railways. The capital market is depressed and
even the Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC Ltd.) has been
forced to extend the last date for a small bonds issue because of
lukewarm response. It is uncertain if the Railways will be successful
with other component _ investments under the BOLT scheme _ because of
the slowdown in industrial activity. There has been a decline in
offerings of high rated commodities and items.

This means there might be a corresponding drop in
wagons taken up by the private sector under the BOLT scheme.

There have been suggestions from various quarters
for over- reliance on borrowings, specially from overseas investors
and multilateral financial institutions. The railways are wary of
taking such a route in view of a report from the Paulose Committee
warning of a looming debt trap. Besides, the Railways have
traditionally taken pride in importing technology and then quickly
absorbing it at their several workshops and manufacturing centres.

With the Finance Ministry likely to be
discouraging to the plea for increasing the Budgetary support and the
railways strapped for means to raise resources, there are very few
options left.
Even substantial freight and fare increases might
not help it to the desired extent. This might lead to several
ambitious ventures remaining unrealised. Officials see the need for
several restructuring measures _ both in managing internal finances as
well as the lopsided freight fare structure. Besides, the railways
might have to seriously move towards commercially exploiting surplus
land in several metros.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Simhadri Express derails

Date: 04 Feb 1997 04:47:00 -0500


RAJAHMUNDRY, Feb. 3.

The Guntur-bound Simhadri Express from
Visakhapatnam derailed, just before entering the 100-year-old bridge
near the Godavari railway station on Monday afternoon.

All trains that were to go via the old bridge were
routed through the rail-cum-road bridge. The Simhadri Express was
pulled back to the Godavari station and traffic was restored on the
line by evening.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Stir for Sabari rail line to begin Feb 12

Date: 04 Feb 1997 04:51:00 -0500


KOTTAYAM, Feb. 3.

An inter-State action council formed to press for
the demand of Dindigul-Sabarimala-Kottayam railway line will start
their agitation at Kottayam on February 12, according to the
Periakulam MP, Mr. Njanagiri Swamy.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Swamy,
president of the Council and Mr. P. A. Joseph, secretary, told
presspersons here today that the proposed line would start from
Dindigul and pass through towns like Periakulam, Theni, and Kambam in
Tamil Nadu linking Kumily, Periyar, Peermade, Peruvanthanam, to reach
Erumeli where the line would join the Sabari Rail proposed by leaders
from Kerala.

The proposed line will be 360 km long including 30
km of tunnels. According to Mr. Swamy, this new line would not only
ease the traffic of Sabarimala pilgrims both from Tamil Nadu and
Kerala but also open the gates for better commercial transactions
between the two States.

Movement of hill produces, spices, vegetables and
other goods which now depend on trucks and road traffic, could be
better managed if the proposed line is cleared, he said.

One of the major points being raised against the
Sabari Rail was that it would not be feasible to go in for such a
massive investment just for catering to the Sabarimala pilgrims alone
as the season would extend only for just two months.

If the proposed link line was established, the
project would be viable, he said. The joint agitation by action
council members from both the States would be inaugurated by
Mr. Ramesh Chennithala, MP, at Kottayam on February 12.

A ``vahana pracharana jatha'' would be taken up
all along the proposed route to spread awareness among the people on
the subject. The jatha would end at Dindigul on February 14 with a
dharna, the council leaders said.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Villivakkam-Koyambedu rail link

Date: 06 Feb 1997 04:16:00 -0500


CHENNAI, Feb. 5.

A new rail link between Villivakkam and Koyambedu
via Anna Nagar, proposed by the Tamil Nadu Government way back in 1994
and which was agreed to by the Southern Railway, is likely to get a
fresh lease of life with the State making efforts to revive the
proposal, now that the wholesale market at Koyambedu has come up.

The Metropolitan Transport Project (MTP) (Rail)
under the Ministry of Railways originally proposed a single surface
line between Villivakkam and Anna Nagar for a length of 4.3 km with a
road over bridge (ROB) on the Chennai-Tiruvellore Road at a cost of
Rs. 8.89 crores in 1993.

The Railways also offered to bear the cost,
provided the State Government made available the land free of cost and
shared the construction cost of the road overbridge.

The State Government after studying the proposal,
felt that the proposed line would not serve effectively the travel
needs of commuters as the line was only for a short stretch of 4.3
k.m. It instead suggested that the line could be extended up to
Koyambedu wholesale market, which was then under construction, with a
provision of sidings for a total distance of 6.9 k.m.

The State Government also suggested acquisition of
necessary land for the proposed Villivakkam-Koyambedu double line by
the State with the Railways sharing 50 per cent of the cost. Similarly
the cost of construction of road overbridges (ROB) or underbridges at
Chennai-Tiruvellore and Tirumangalam-Ambattur Industrial Estate Road
would be equally shared by both.

The cost of construction of an ROB on Poonamallee
High Road, would be borne by the State Government and the Railways
should bear the cost of rail bridge across River Cooum.

The Government's suggestions were accepted by the
MTP(R) and the Southern Railway too subsequently concurred in
1994. After that nothing was heard of the project.

Normally after the Southern Railway's concurrence
with an urban- based project it is placed before the Railway
Co-ordination Committee in which the Chief Secretary of the State and
the
General Manager of the Southern Railways are
members. If the project is cleared by the committee it would be sent
to the Railway Ministry for final approval and subsequent inclusion in
the budget. Now efforts are being made by the State Urban Development
Department to convene the committee as early as possible to review the
project.

It is said the Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi,
immediately after coming to power appealed to the Railway Minister,
Mr.Ramvilas Paswan, to reconsider the project during the latter's
first visit to the State.

Officials of the State Government and the Southern
Railway feel it is high time the committee gave its nod to the project
to be taken up with the Railway Ministry for inclusion in the coming
railway budget. The new line will be viable with the Koyambedu
wholesale market opening its activity.

Once the line comes through, the State Government
should take further steps to connect Koyambedu with Velacheri-Luz
proposed under the MRTS Phase II. It would not be a difficult
proposition as the State Government had agreed to the Railways'
condition to bear two thirds of the cost of any urban-based transport
project, sources in Southern Railway said.

From: db2adm <db2adm@VNET.email

Subject: Railway News

Date: 06 Feb 1997 09:31:00 -0500


MPs' panel to study suburban rail system

By A Times of India Staff Reporter

MUMBAI: Yet another parliamentary standing committee has come to
Mumbai to study the suburban railway system here. This 16-member
committee is to look into passenger amenities and catering
services, railway officials said. It is learnt that only 11 of 16
members came here on Monday evening for a three-day visit. They
held discussions with Western Railway (WR) officials on Tuesday
morning and visited the WR Mahalaxmi and Parel workshops later,
sources said. The committee held discussions with Central Railway
(CR) officials on Wednesday morning.

The committee visited Ahmedabad on Monday and will proceed to Goa
on Thursday. Later, the committee is scheduled to go to Bangalore
and Chennai, sources said. Commuters who spoke to this newspaper
had said then that such committee visits were merely `pleasure
trips' and that they meant nothing to the public. The MPs are
allowed free stay in a five star hotel, free internal travel and
air fare, railway sources said.

A WR spokesperson said on Tuesday that the details of the meeting
were to be kept a secret. Hence, nothing more than who attended
and the topics they discussed, could be learnt. Mr Ram Naik,
however, had addressed a press conference immediately after his
meeting with railway officials and spoken at great length about
the deliberations.

From: db2adm <db2adm@VNET.email

Subject: Railway News

Date: 06 Feb 1997 09:42:00 -0500


Inidan Express

BARODA: The `Information Session on International Railway Activities',
has called for development of an international rail traffic network in
Asia and West Asia through closer cooperation. The four-day session,
organised by the International Union of Railways during the week-end,
also supported India's call for launching a Trans-Asian Railway project,
which had been under consideration for the last 35 years. About 75
delegates from 20 countries exchanged views on advanced technologies at
the session.

From: db2adm <db2adm@VNET.email

Subject: Railway News

Date: 07 Feb 1997 08:04:00 -0500


Times of India

`Railway staff is responsible for most accidents'
By Mrinmayee Ranade

MUMBAI: The recent derailment of the Konark Express, after a side
collision with a suburban local, has once again brought to the
fore the issue of railway safety. Commissioner for railway safety,
central division, M. Mani, spoke to The Times of India on the
subject. He explained the steps taken by the railways to avoid
such mishaps and what action is initiated against those found
responsible. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: What kind of accidents does your office inquire into?
A: The commission, which is connected to the department of civil
aviation, investigates accidents resulting in death, serious
injury or severe loss to railway property. It is the commission's
job also to inspect sites of new projects, such as laying of new
tracks, or even remodelling of workshops. Such projects cannot be
flagged off without a green signal from the commission.

Q: What is your role in case an accident occurs?
A: The commission has semi-judicial powers. We can ask anyone to
appear as a witness or call for documents. We go into the cause of
the accident and ascertain whether railway staffers were
responsible for it. We also recommend steps to be taken by the
railways to avoid further accidents. The commission submits its
preliminery report within 10 days of the accident and a final
report within 60 days to the Railway Board.

Q: Are all recommendations accepted by the board?
A: Most are. The ones that are not accepted generally call upon
the state government or a local body to rectify the problem. An
example is the encroachment problem in Mumbai. We recommended that
slumdwellers be evicted from railway land. But, that needs help of
the Maharashtra government and will take its own time coming.

Q: What could have happened in the Konark derailment?
A: I will not be able to say much because I have not inquired into
the derailment, as there were no casualties. The Central Railway
(CR) chief safety officer is looking into the matter.

Q: What are the most usual causes of railway accidents?
A: All accidents are avoidable. About 70 per cent of accidents are
due to human error. In most cases, I find that railway staff is
responsible. Other causes may be technical.

Q: Are there any pressures on you from various departments to
shift the blame for an accident?
A: Departments do try to avoid responsibility. However, my job is
to go to the heart of the accident. I do not budge under pressures
from anyone.

Q: How many railway employees whom you have held responsible
for accidents are actually punished?
A: Accidents are taken up seriously by the railway administration.
Although punishment is generally removal or dismissal from
service, the employee can appeal against the order. So, he could
be taken back, but on a lower grade or rank. But, no one is left
scot free, if he is responsible.

Q: Are your motormen or guards adequately trained?
A: They are given psycho-technical training before actual
induction in service. We also train them with the help of
simulators. Staffers directly involved with the running of trains
are given refresher courses from time to time. The chief safety
officer has detailed files on all these men. So we know who is due
for a course or a period of rest. We also organise safety camps
for them.

Q: What about recent derailments on the CR?
A: Encroachment along the tracks and drainage problems are major
reasons. However, the railways have been unable to remove
hutments. The drainage problem is being cleared.

Q: What about maintenance?
A: Although maintenance projects are taken up from time to time,
nothing is ever enough. Tracks and units are being replaced. We
conduct surprise checks to see whether rules are being followed
or not. The CR is such a complicated network, running into several
hundred km. Around 14,500 trains run everyday on the Indian
Railways. And there are 450 accidents per year, most of them
minor. On the CR, there about 50 to 55 accidents every year, out
of which only about 10 or 15 need my attention.

Q: The public never gets to see your reports.
A: The reports are kept confidential because they are largely
technical. And, when an accident has already taken place, what
would people want to know about it? The person held responsible
for a mishap may challenge the report in a high court. So making
our reports public might complicate matters. This is a semi-
judicial commission. We do give a summary of the report to the
press information bureau.

Q: Very often, there are other people too travelling in the
motormen's cabin. Why is it allowed?
A: Motormen are not supposed to give entry to anyone who is not
on official duty. Motormen going for duty or railway employees
carrying messages can travel in the cabin. The CR recently
launched a drive against unofficial people travelling in the
cabin.
===============================================
Indian Express

CR drive

The Central Railway is carrying out a demolition drive against a
large number of encroachments along Guru Tehgbahadur Nagar railway
station. As reported by this newspaper recently, some anti-social
elements in the locality were openly selling railway property to
gullible persons looking for a roof above their heads. The
demolition of some of the structures continued even on Thursday.
According to a CR spokesman, personnel from the railway protection
force and the state reserve police were mobilised for the purpose
on the first day of demolition.
================================================
Special trains

Western Railway will run four special trains to Ahmedabad and
Jaipur from Bandra Terminus to clear the rush of passengers due to
month Ramzan. Ahmedabad to Mumbai Central Special Express (no 872)
will leave Ahmedabad at 9.00 pm and arrive at Mumbai Cnetral the
next day morning at 5.05 am. Mumbai Central-Ahmedabad Special
Express (no 871) will leave Mumbai at 10.30 pm and reach Ahmedabad
next morning at 6.50 am. Jaipur-Bandra Terminus Special Express
(no 874) will leave Jaipur at 10.35 pm and arrive at Bandra next
day at 4.00 pm. All these trains will run on alternate days.

From: db2adm <db2adm@VNET.email

Subject: Railway News

Date: 12 Feb 1997 13:51:00 -0500


WR plan for Valsad pass-holders

The Times of India
By A Staff Reporter

MUMBAI: The Western Railway (WR) has decided to earmark one first
class coach and six second class coaches for season ticket-holders
on the Mumbai Central-Valsad-Mumbai Central fast passenger train.

The WR has also decided to extend the experimental stoppage of the
Mumbai-Delhi August Kranti Rajdhani Express at Valsad till July
1997.

The WR has also revised the timing of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad and
Bandra-Jaipur special express trains. The Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central
express will leave Ahmedabad at 11.45 p.m., instead of 9 p.m. on
February 13. The return train will leave Mumbai Central at 10.30
p.m. on February 12 and 14.

The Jaipur-Bandra terminus train will leave Jaipur at 8.35 p.m. on
February 12 and 14. The return train will leave Bandra terminus at
10.25 p.m. on February 13 and 15.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Train journey in Bihar, a nightmare

Date: 13 Feb 1997 03:53:00 -0500


PATNA, Feb. 12.

The recent dacoity in the Dadar-Bhagalpur Express on a cold, wintry
night near Jamalpur in Munger district _ the 87th in Bihar during
1996-vividly highlighted how risky rail journey through has come to
be.

Four passengers, including a woman were shot dead, a dozen injured,
two of them grievously, and cash and belongings worth several lakhs of
rupees were looted by the gun-totting dacoit gang. Among the victims
was a Jamalpur railway workshop employee. The train, as usual, was
running without a police escort. Not that the police presence would
have made much of a difference since they (the GRP or the RPF) would
have remained mute witnesses and perhaps shared the booty later with
the dacoits as is often the case.

Anyway, provoked by the dacoity which has come to be a routine affair
in this benighted State, an irate mob went on the rampage, ransacked
the Jamalpur railway station and stopped all rail movements. The
police promptly fired 11 rounds on the protesting mob, injuring
several persons, three of them critically.

According to local people, the dacoits also abducted four young girls
from the compartment, a fact which has been denied by the
administration. However, according to Mr. Umeshwar Prasad Sah, who
suffered bullet injuries in the indiscriminate firing by the dacoits
and rushed to Patna for treatment, the marauders dragged four young
girls from two compartments, ripped off the ear rings of one of the
them, and gang-raped them in the nearby fields under cover of
darkness.

Mostly,traders travel to and fro from Bhagalpur,famous for its silk,to
Bombay _ a fact well-known to the dacoits. The other trains, which
fall a prey to the dacoits, mostly during the summer rush, are the
Patna-Chennai and Patna-Kochi. As reports of the dacoity reached the
corridors of power in Delhi,the Prime Minister's office (PM0), in an
unusual move, rang up the Governor, Mr. A. R. Kidwai, and sought a
report on the incident.

As it is, dacoities, kidnapping and assaults on women passengers have
come to be a ``day-to-day affair'' in the Jamalpur-Munger- Bhagalpur
area, particularly a 30 sq.km. belt around Lakhisarai in which almost
every passing train has been ``targeted by criminal gangs at one point
or the other.'' Mr. Rama Chandra Khan, a former Railway I.G. has
described this area as ``unique where train dacoities go on unabated
even during the day time.'' In 1994, three teen-aged girls were
abducted from the Farakka Express. Two former SPs have, in their
confidential reports to the Government,spoken of a police-criminal
nexus in the recurring rail dacoities. But no action has been taken so
far on these reports.

A report has quoted the Munger District Magistrate, Dr. S. C. Mishra,
as expressing his ``helplessness in controlling the crime situation in
the region as even the police do not oppose the bail petitions of the
gangsters.''

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: MPs back Rlys. demand for more funds

Date: 13 Feb 1997 03:56:00 -0500


NEW DELHI, Feb. 12.

Members of Parliament today joined hands with the Railway
Ministry in demanding enhanced budgetary support to allow the
railways fulfill its social tasks on one hand and accomplish
modernisation and upgradation on the other. The railways have
been consistently claiming that a hike in fares is unavoidable if the
Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry continue to be
reluctant towards hiking the allocation under the head of grants at
low interest rates from the Centre.

At the meeting of the Parliamentary consultative committee
attached to the Railway Ministry today, members unanimously
endorsed the views of Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan. They felt the railways
should be allotted Rs. 4,000 crores for the next financial year so
that it could frame a plan size of about Rs. 11,000 crores. A record
is considered necessary to meet the higher transporation
requirements, new projects and carry out loss-making activities
without curtailing any of them.

If the Finance Ministry was unwilling or unable to apportion the
amount, then the Prime Minister should take the initiative and
allocate funds from rural development schemes. After all, they
argued, the projects being taken up by the railways in areas such
as the North-East were more of a developmental activity than
projects born out of commercial requirements. They felt that
higher budgetary support will help the railways expand transport
capacity in backward and undeveloped areas as well as work as an
engine of growth, development and employment in these regions.

They cited the case of railway projects worth Rs. 6,000 crores for
the North East and wondered why the railways should foot the bill
when the lines will be patently commercially unviable. The example
of the costly Jammu-Udhampur-Baramulla railway line was
mentioned which has now been adopted as a ``national project''
because policy makers realise that the railways will not be able to
generously allot resources to complete it quickly.

The Railway Minister was asked to take up the issue of higher
budgetary support with the Prime Minister so that besides
spreading out in undeveloped areas, the railways were able to
achieve the objective of seven per cent growth in the Ninth Plan.
Members felt the railways schemes announced by Prime Minister
should be funded by the Exchequer instead of the railways. The
tone of the day's discussions and the strong plea from MPs was
actually set by Mr. Paswan's introductory remarks. The Railway
Minister called for the support of MPs for increasing budgetary
support so that the railways could expand in backward and
strategically important areas.

The Rs. 11,000 crore annual plan proposed by the Railways, over
which a fierce tug of war with the Planning Commission and the
North Block is on, has a staggering 45 per cent as budgetary
support. Of this, one-third (over Rs. 1,500 crores) has been
demanded under the head of ``public service obligations'' to offset
the losses suffered by the railways in running trains on chronically
uneconomic routes and carrying essential commodities at reduced
rates.

According to sources, Mr. Paswan is still waiting for word from the
Prime Minister over the amount of budgetary grant that could be
allotted to the railways. He is said to have told the Prime Minister
that the railways have been told to earmark Rs. 65,000 crores
during the Ninth Plan to fulfill transportation aspirations of the
economy aiming at gross domestic product growth rate of seven
per cent.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Rail price hike on cards: Paswan

Date: 14 Feb 1997 13:25:00 -0500


EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE


CHENNAI, February 13: Union railway minister Ram Vilas
Paswan on Thursday hinted at a steep increase in rail fares
in the ensuing Railway Budget to be presented in Parliament
later this month and said it was `inevitable'.

Talking to mediapersons at Rail House after his arrival from
Delhi, Paswan, who is here to participate in the Dalit Sena
conference, said the fare hike was imminent in view of the
heavy burden on the railways including provision of funds
for ongoing projects. He, however, refused to be drawn into
the details.

He said the Railways would have to incur an additional
burden of Rs 4,000 crore if the Fifth Pay Commission
recommendations were to be implemented. Nearly 50 per
cent of the 32 lakh Central government staff are employed
with the railways, he added.

Asked if the United Front Government would increase the
fares since 1997 could turn out to be an election year,
Paswan said economic compulsions were also equally
important.

``We are a minority government dependent on outside
support. We are not bothered whether it is one-day cricket
or a five-day match. We are only interested in the runs and
not in the fall of wickets,''he said.

Asked if the expenditure on capital budget of the railways
would be pruned in view of the grave economic situation in
the country, the minister said that there would be
tightening of the budget. To a question whether the
railways proposed to go in for a rights issue to mobilise
funds, he said that he, along with Railway Board members,
had met Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and the Planning
Commission members to impress upon them the need to
increase budgetary support to the railways from the
present 16 per cent.

Paswan said that whenever the prices of petroleum
products were raised, 50 per cent of the burden fell on the
railways. ``The railways are under pressure but we are
trying to mobilise resources internally,''he said.

The railways were focussing on improving the railway
network in the backward areas of the country and in the
North East. Rail traffic was much cheaper when compared
to road traffic and it was the priority of the railways to see
to that the network was spread to all the backward areas.
So far, the railways had 62,000 kms of rail link and 7,000
stations, he said.

He said the government had taken a decision that economic
viability of a new route or new railway line would not be
the deciding factor, but such projects would also depend
upon public welfare. ``If commercial consideration were to
decide on the construction of projects, services to the
North East would not be viable. Similarly passenger service
was always uneconomic but still it was being subsidised.

From: db2adm <db2adm@VNET.email

Subject: Railway News

Date: 15 Feb 1997 06:39:00 -0500


The Times, London
Februray 15, 1997

India's steam trains shunted to scrapyard by clean machines
FROM CHRISTOPHER THOMAS IN DELHI

INDIA announced yesterday that it will soon be sending the last of
its steam trains to the scrapyard, ending a 150-year era of steam
power.

Western Railways, where many of the remaining steam engines
operate on little-used country lines in Gujarat, will shunt 40
trains to the junkyards in the next two months. They will be
replaced by diesel engines, which are faster, cleaner, cheaper to
run and easier to maintain.

The passing of steam may be lamented by enthusiasts, but not by
the men who have to work with it. Drivers and firemen have nothing
good to say about steam trains; they are ill-maintained and full
of rust because the Railways Ministry has for years refused to
spend money on them, and working on the footplate in summer is
unbearable.

Staff complain that it takes hours to fire up the boilers in the
morning, whereas diesel trains start as easily as a car, and that
the trains must be coaxed through days punctuated by greasing,
cleaning out ash and dealing with constant breakdowns.

Steam "toy trains" that serve the hill stations of Darjeeling and
Ootacamund, better known in India as Ooty, will be reprieved
until 2000, when their future will be reviewed. They are popular
with tourists. These will be the survivors of the world's greatest
fleet of steam trains, which helped to make India a nation and was
crucial in the post-independence drive for industrialisation.

The last broad-gauge steam trains were scrapped in 1995, leaving
260 smaller steam engines travelling the backwaters. Many have
been relegated to shunting duties because their notorious
unreliability plays havoc with timetables. There are now fewer
than 100 left, remnants of a steam fleet of 8,500 engines at its
peak in the 1970s. The diesel and electric fleet is now a record
13,000 trains.

Indian Railways continues to grow. New lines are being built and
passenger volume increases yearly. Steam is seen as an
embarrassment to the world's most used, and second largest, rail
network, 40,000 miles against Russia's 50,000. It carries 18
million people a day, many of them for a pittance: the third class
fare for the 900-mile journey from Delhi to Calcutta is $9, making
it the transportation of the poor. The better-off travel in air-
conditioned First Class.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Terror on the trains

Date: 17 Feb 1997 05:08:00 -0500



The Hindu
CHENNAI, 17 Feb 1997


They operate on trains and in railway stations and
attack vulnerable passengers. K. T. Sangameswaran
describes the modus operandi of criminal gangs.

Their area of operation is confined to trains and
stations. The vulnerable sections of the citizenry are
their _ quarry women seated in near-empty compartments,
elderly persons and passengers travelling alone.

So frequent is chain-snatching and robbery in moving
trains and at railway stations that it appears that
criminal gangs are operating with impunity. The city has
the dubious distinction of having recorded more than 15
such robberies in the last four months.

An incident at Korattur last month proves that even the
presence of policemen around does not guarantee safety
from the marauding gangs.

A train passenger almost paid with his life when he
resisted the attack by a four-member armed gang between
Patravakkam and Korattur stations on Pongal day. Even as
he was recovering from the brutal assault, the
desperadoes removed a gold ring and cash from him and
jumped off the train when it was slowing down. All that
the two railway police escorts did was to take the
victim to the station master for first-aid and later to
a private hospital in Avadi. Perhaps pricked by their
conscience, they took a complaint from the passenger. A
few persons nabbed were found to be unconnected with the
crime. To add insult to injury, the policemen
investigating the robbery were trying to tap the
victim's family for ``funds'' to meet their travel
expenses on the job.

This being the reality, there are claims of
``intensified patrolling'' of railway stations on the
other. The gangs apparently are sure of their ground: a
knife-wielding gang operated twice within 15 minutes on
the foot overbridge across Fort station, taking away a
wristwatch and about Rs. 1,500 from the victims.

The latest reported incident was of four persons robbing
a couple of ninesovereigns worth of gold jewellery on
the Cholan Express.

Police agree there is now an overall spurt in the
incidence of crimes in trains and at railway stations.
They, however, say: ``But the incidents were many times
more six months ago, and have come down now due to extra
vigil.''

Unlike in the past, when crimes occurred at specific
areas, such as isolated stretches, the incidents are now
being reported from almost all places, though the police
have identified Chetput, Park, Palavanthangal, Fort and
Trisoolam stations on the metre- gauge line and Basin
Bridge, Vyasarpadi, Korattur, Tirunindravur, Patravakkam
and Pattabhiram on the broad gauge section as crime-
prone. As if cocking a snook at the custodians of law, a
youth made off with a one-sovereign chain from a woman
when she was boarding a Gummidipoondi-bound train at the
MMC complex.

For the police, there are no organised gangs and they
describe the majority of the culprits as
``first-offenders'' who are difficult to track. They
strike whenever an opportunity arises and the blatant
display of jewellery serves as an open invitation to
them.

But there are other angles to the working of such gangs.
The connivance of railway employees is suspected in some
cases. What is more, in such cases investigation becomes
a complicated task. In one instance, the passengers
complained of theft of baggage and suspicious movements
of some fellow travellers. A TTE was summoned for
questioning. This was enough to set rumours afloat that
the police had ``beaten up'' the railway official,
leading to protests and disruption of train services.
Later, some empty suitcases of passengers were found
strewn along the railway track on the routes which the
TTE regularly covered.

A major grievance of the victims is that the railway
police do not register complaints immediately after a
crime, turning them away stating that it is not within
the area of their jurisdiction. Even where complaints
are accepted, no worthwhile action is taken ``due to
shortage of manpower.'' The crimes then lie forgotten.

An officer says policemen have been posted in mufti at
all crime- prone stations and that several cases have
been detected. Seven personnel, including an Inspector,
who failed to take timely action were recently
suspended. ``But we cannot keep suspending each and
every erring policeman''.

The Inspector-General of Police, Railways, Mr. K.
Subbaiah, says the police have an action plan to contain
crime. Besides posting policemen on platforms,
six-member teams _ two each from the railway police, RPF
and from among willing Railway employees _ are being
deployed on trains such as the Mangalore Mail, Cheran,
Blue Mountain and Brindavan Expresses to identify and
apprehend criminals.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Suburban commuters fear fare hike

Date: 19 Feb 1997 06:26:00 -0500


EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE


MUMBAI, February 18: With only a week left for the
presentation of the rail budget, Mumbai suburban
passengers, constituting more than 50 per cent of
the nation's passenger-load, fear a fare hike.

This, according to them is evident from the fact
that the rail minister Ram Vilas Paswan has
recently hinted at providing heavy concessions to
dalits as also the introduction of new rail zones.

Apart from this during the last budget
presentation long-distance travel fares were
increased on the railways sparing the suburban,
Central and the Western Railways.

This year, passengers feel, the budget may suggest
at least a 5-10 per cent fare hike for suburban
travel on the reason that money is required for
development and maintenance of the section.

Similar is the feeling of railway officials who
assert that a large chunk of money can only save
the suburban section. They claim that the measures
taken by the former railway minister to keep
suburban section away from a fare hike in the last
budget has resulted in the services deteriorating
day after day.

As a result, problems like late running of trains,
water-logging on railway tracks, slums near the
rail tracks among others added to the woes of the
passengers during last one year.

A hue and cry was recently raised by some
political parties after which the state government
of Maharashtra intervened to solve the problems.
However, the various newly formed co-ordination
committees could not solve any of the problems of
commuters. The special task force constituted by
the state government to shift the slums adjacent
to the tracks failed miserably following the
inability of the railways to allot property for
the resettlement of nearly 25 lakh slum-dwellers
situated at more than 20 locations on both the
Central and the Western Railway.

A regular passenger Mandar Hegisthe from Borivli
felt the railways should hike the fares by only
five percent. With a passenger-load of nearly 50
lakhs per day, it will be very easy for the
railways to provide better passenger amenities.

P A Rao from Vikhroli says a fare hike is not
welcome as the rail administrations have not paid
heed to the scores of problems CR commuters
already face.

Lady commuters spoken to by Express Newsline
complained the menace of hawkers, eunuchs, robbers
and above all the male passengers who barge into
the coaches even when their travel time does not
start.

Railway officials on the other hand feel the
facilities in a public service like the suburban
services are bound to get out-dated after a while.
About the hike, they maintain that if the hike is
implemented on the passengers it will only help us
in making travel easier and comfortable.

The main issues to be looked into by the railways
now instead of imposing a fare hike are the
procurement of new EMU rakes, maintaining of
tracks, over-haul of signalling equipment thus
amounting to betterment of services, feel
passengers.

From: Kandaswami, Auroprem* <Kandaswami#m#_Auroprem*@msgate.email

Subject: Goods train derails, traffic disrupted

Date: 19 Feb 1997 06:30:00 -0500


The Hindu
CHENNAI, Feb. 18.

Traffic on the Chennai-Gudur section of the Southern
Railway been partially affected following derailment
of 17 wagons of a goods train between Sulurpet and Tada
(Andhra Pradesh), about 70 km from here in the early
hours of Tuesday.

Most of the derailed wagons telescoped into one another
while some others rolled down the embankment. The track
and the overhead traction were damaged for a length of
over a kilometre.

The derailment however, has not affected traffic on the
other line on which both up and down traffic is now
being operated.

Southern Railway sources said the goods train was
carrying rice stock to Quilon from Kapurtala in Punjab
on behalf of the Kerala Civil Supplies Corporation. Most
of the rice bags were in tact and only a few hundred
bags were damaged spilling the rice near the track.

The sources suspected that the derailment was due to
either rail fracture or brake fault in a wagon. The
exact cause would be known only after an inquiry.
Restoration of traffic on the affected line would take
time as the derailed wagons were fully loaded. Railway
officials supervising the restoration work said the
wagons were to be emptied before their removal.

About 250 workers have been deployed in unloading the
consignment. A 75-tonne crane from Arakkonam is engaged
in removing the mangled wagons from the track and two
more 150 tonne cranes _ one each from Vijayawada and
Erode _ are to be pressed into service for speedy
clearance of the wagons. The officials are hopeful of
restoring the traffic on the affected line by Wednesday
morning.

Mr. Ramakrishnan, Divisional Railway Manager, Chennai,
said fortunately, the wagons, after derailment, did not
fall on the other line. Otherwise both up and down
traffic would have been affected.

Following the derailment, the Tamil Nadu Express, G.T.
Express, Hyderabad Express, Howrah Mail and Circar
Express arrived Chennai Central about 90 minutes behind
schedule. The departure of Howrah-bound Coromandel
Express and the Chennai-Ahmedabad Navjivan Express was
delayed by about an hour due to the mishap.

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