Rishikesh Karnaprayag Rail Link

The Indian Railways is planning to construct Rishikesh – Karnaprayag railway line in state of Uttarakhand. The railway line will be the first laying of the track line in Uttarakhand after independence in 1947.  85 per cent (105 KM) of proposed 127 KM line will pass through tunnels and 11 new railway stations will be constructed to cater to the people. They are New Rishikesh, Shivpuri, Byasi, Deoprayag, Maletha, Shrinagar, Dhari, Rudraprayag, Gholtir, Gauchar and Karanprayag. It is being presumed that the tourists visiting places like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib, Tunganath and the ski resort of Auli, will benefit from it.

History

Historian Gopal Bhardwaj says that the British had planned a track from Haridwar to Mussoorie via Harrawala and Rajpur, bypassing Dehradun.

But due to some opposition from the administration and businessmen from Dehradun, it was decided to link Haridwar and Dehradun first. This resulted in the proposal to link Mussoorie with Haridwar being put on the backburner while a track between Haridwar and Dehradun was sanctioned on the 18 November, 1896. This rail line was subsequently opened on 1 March, 1900.

It was in 1921 that the plan saw a new lease of life, with the floating of a public limited company — Dehradun-Mussoorie Electric Tramway Company Ltd. With a share capital of Rs 36 lakh, the firm was promoted by a businessman called Belti Shah Gilani and a large number of people invested money in it. Maharaja Ripudaman Singh of Nabha (Punjab) reportedly had an investment of Rs 10 lakh and the Maharaja of Jindh was also a major stakeholder. The electric railway network was to link Rajpur to Mussoorie via Jharipani and Barlowgunj.

But the tunnel at Jharipani is supposed to have caved in, killing a few workers. This combined with political unrest and the alleged embezzlement of funds by company officials, eventually leading to the project being abandoned.

Present 

(Reference: http://www.rvnl.org/project/map.php?id=99)

In 2013, Rail Vikas Nigam Limited completed the final survey of the alignment of the proposed line. The Corporation asked the chief minister to help in the acquisition of land for the proposed railway line, which was likely to cost Rs 4295 crores. However as of 2016 the project cost rose to approximately 16000 crore. The heavy cost is due to large number of tunnels which need to be built for the project and delay in granting forest clearance.

The work on project is expected to start from December 2016. 308.39 hectare of reserved forest land, 110.316 hectare of governmental land and 169.918 hectare private land would be transferred to Rail Development Corporation Limited for the project. In-principal clearance for the first phase of the project has already been given by the Union ministry of forests, environment and climate change. Formal clearance will be granted by the ministry after compliance of the conditions mentioned in the in-principal clearance letter.

A 15.1-km tunnel, longest in the country, is set to come up between Devprayag and Lachmoli on the route. The project will also include 16 bridges with the longest of them being 460 m.

India’s longest tunnel at present is the 11.2 KM link from Banihal to Quazikund linking the Jammu region to the Kashmir valley.

PS: The size of forest land mentioned on official site (http://forestsclearance.nic.in/viewreport.aspx?pid=FP/UK/RAIL/11812/2015) is different. It also consists of other important documents attached for more details.

References:

1. http://hillpost.in/2013/09/uttarakhands-rishikesh-karanprayag-rail-line-survey-complete/96130/

2. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/The-unfulfilled-dream-of-train-to-Mussoorie/articleshow/46387478.cms

3. http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/rishikesh-karanprayag-rail-project-cost-might-touch-rs-15-000-crore-115022401473_1.html

4. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/Work-on-Rishikesh-Karnprayag-railway-line-picks-up-pace/articleshow/52168695.cms

5. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/Work-on-Rishikesh-Karnaprayag-railway-line-to-begin-in-December/articleshow/54918138.cms

6. http://www.hindustantimes.com/dehradun/coming-soon-india-s-longest-railway-tunnel-on-rishikesh-karnprayag-route/story-wS8XHEfypDEXqdmkby3aAN.html

 

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Kashmir Railway – How much has been completed?

Officially termed the Jammu Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link, the railway line starts from Jammu and will travel for 345 km (214 mi) to Baramulla on the northwestern edge of the Kashmir Valley.

Forming a part of Firozpur division of the Northern Railway zone, the line has been under construction since 1983 by various railway companies. It will link the state’s winter capital, Jammu, with the summer capital, Srinagar, and beyond. The project has had a long and chequered history but serious progress was made only after it was declared a National Project in 2002.

The route includes many bridges, viaducts and tunnels. The railway is expected to cross a total of over 750 bridges and pass through over 100 km of tunnels, the longest of which is 11.215 km in length.The greatest engineering challenges involve the crossing of the Chenab river, which involves building a 1,315 m (4,314 ft) long bridge 359 m (1,178 ft) above the river bed, and the crossing of the Anji Khad, which involves building a 657 m (2,156 ft) long bridge 186 m (610 ft) above the river bed. The Chenab Bridge will be the highest railway structure of its kind in the world, 35 m higher than the tip of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

On 13 April 2005 the 53 km long Jammu-Udhampur line was inaugurated, 21 years and ₹5.15 billion after its commencement, marking the completion of “Leg 0”. The line had 20 major tunnels and 158 bridges. Its longest tunnel was 2.5 km and its highest bridge was 77 m (253 ft) – the highest railway bridge in India. This is in the relatively easy Shivalik Hills.

On 11 October 2008 the first isolated section of 66 km between Manzhama and Anantnag on Leg 3 inaugurated, 14 months behind schedule. On 14 February 2009 the train service on Leg 3 was extended to Baramulla and on 28 October 2009 the 18 km long section from Anantnag to Qazigund was inaugurated by the prime minister marking the completion of Leg 3. IRCON, a Public Sector railway construction company was in charge of this section.

On 4 July 2014 the train journey on Udhampur-Katra line was officially inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This marked the completion of Leg 1. The route includes 7 tunnels and 30 small and big bridges. Indian Railways was in charge of the Udhampur-Katra Section (25 km).

A 18 km stretch of Leg 2 between Quazigund and Banihal was commissioned on 26 June 2013.The stretch of 18 km includes a 11.215 km long Pir Panjal railway tunnel, also known as Banihal railway tunnel is India’s longest and Asia’s sixth longest railway tunnel . The tunnel is 8.40 m wide with a height of 7.39 m. The tunnel includes a three-metre wide service road along the length of the tunnel for maintenance of railway tracks and emergency relief. The tunnel’s average elevation at 1,760 m (5,770 ft) is 440 m (1,440 ft) below the existing road tunnel.  Banihal railway station is situated at 1,702 m (5,584 ft) above mean sea level. HCC constructed it for approx US$120 million.

Leg 2 is under construction and is not likely to be completed before 2019-20.Construction has been plagued by technical difficulties over the choice of alignment and disputes with contractors. This is the most difficult section of the rail line, with 62 bridges and multiple tunnels with a cumulative total length of 10 km out of total 129 km. It also requires laying of 262 km of access roads connecting 147,000 people in 73 villages. In July 2008, the work in some section of the Katra-Banihal section was suspended for considering a realignment. The alternative alignment proposed by the railway reduced the length of track from 126 km to 67 km. The expert committee appointed by the railway board has recommended to abandon 93 km of the previously approved alignment. On 12 November 2014, Delhi high court directed the Central Government to constitute a committee to review the 126 km long section of the rail link. On 27 April 2016 High court disposed off the case after an affidavit filed by the Railway Board said that “after due consideration/examination of the Report of the ex-DMRC chief E Sreedharan Committee, the Board was fully satisfied”.

Supreme Court on 14th July 2016 refused to entertain a plea alleging that the railways were ignoring serious safety concerns raised by the experts regarding the 125-km-long Katra-Banihal section of the rail link to Kashmir and sought realignment of the project. The plea said that Railway Board did not place before an expert panel, headed by Sreedharan to review the current alignment of rail link, an interim report of an agency which had also examined the feasibility of an alternate alignment.

The Railway Board summarily rejected the idea of a new alignment, claiming that the existing alignment is “a well-researched, well-investigated line where work is progressing successfully without any mishaps or problems” and then calling the new alignment as advocated by Sreedharan as only a “paper alignment”.

Konkan Railway Corporation Limited is in charge of the Katra-Laole Section (90 km) in this section and rest in under IRCON.

Leg 2 also involves “Chenab Bridge”. railway steel arch bridge under construction between Bakkal and Kauri in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir in India. When finished, the bridge will span the Chenab River at a height of 359 m (1,178 ft) above the river, making it the world’s highest rail bridge.

The Chenab Bridge was originally intended to be completed in December 2009. However, in September 2008 the project was halted due to fears over the bridge’s stability and safety.The construction has been contracted to Afcons Infrastructure Limited, a part of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the third-largest construction group in India.

Another important bridge is Anji Khad bridge which is being built upstream on Chenab river at an estimated cost of Rs 458 crore. The structure will be 196 metres high, with a span of around 290 metres. The modified plan for the bridge will be implemented from 2016 and is expected to be completed in 3 years.

The work at present faces no legal bottlenecks but will not be completed before 2020 even in most optimistic case.

References:

Emergency quota in Railways – My RTI

You book a train ticket 2-3 months before the scheduled date and get a waiting number of say, 10. You keep waiting for your ticket to get confirmed but it never does. However you find that a friend of yours who booked the ticket after you and has a waiting of say, 50 has got his ticket confirmed after the chart comes out. Or consider the case where a person goes to a travel agent, pays a hefty amount and gets a confirmed ticket at the last moment without using the “Tatkal” system. How is that even possible !! In case the friend is a family member of railway employee the first thought that comes into mind is that there might a separate special quota for railway employees and their families or  may be he knew a VIP.

I am writing this post to clarify this notion with the best possible information and experience available to me. To gain information I filed an RTI and I gained experience firsthand coming from a railway family. But first things first. Here is the RTI reply from ministry of railways (MoR).

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At first glance it seems that it is the VIP quota of Indian Railways. There is no online way to apply for it. I couldn’t find any information about this quota on official website of Indian Railways and the data of number of seats allocated to this quota is not available publicly. VIP quota is not uncommon in the country and so this quota doesn’t come as surprise.

However now notice point 1- (ix), (xiii), (xiv). This is where the problem comes into picture. 1.ix allows allows “others” to also avail this facility based on availability. How would “others” apply for this quota when they are “bereaved, sick or have to appear for a job interview”? This is where you need to be from a railway person’s family or have proximity to a VIP/ railway officer. Rule 1.xiii and 1.xiv ensures that. To me this seems to be a very wrong provision in nature. If the railways want to give benefit of vacant seats in the quota they rather give chance to everyone to apply on counters/ online and give benefit to people in genuine need rather than helping a privileged few. This isn’t a tough task in era of internet.

Although not mentioned in the RTI reply, Southern Railway seems to have taken steps in this direction- “Passengers who intend to apply for EQ accommodation in the Thiruvananthapuram railway division should approach the office of the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager in the divisional headquarters here two days in advance in person or through representatives or by fax (0471-2326482) or by mail to seniordcmtvc@gmail.com” (link).

Another problem with this quota is that it leaves a loophole and human interference in the booking systems which is used by the travel agents to sell tickets to their clients at exorbitant prices at last moment. This takes place due to nexus between railway staff handling the allotment work. Railways, I think already know of this problem well- point 1.xix , 1.xx, 1.xxi. This circular dates back to February 2011 and as per my experience this problem still exists widely. This shakes the confidence of a common man in the railways and its booking system. Minister of state for Railways Mr. Manoj Sinha also accepted this in response to a question in the parliament (link). A writ petition was also filed in this regard in Madras HC (link).

MoR seems to paying a lot of attention on customer amenities these days. It would be a great idea to make this quota and its allotment a fair, equal and transparent system. Southern Railway shows how to begin. However for a pan India system email and phone won’t work and would require a separate system – both in person and online.

I have tried my level best to write the article factually and minimize subjectivity. If I have still missed out on any important detail please feel free to comment.

P.S.- I have also availed this quota atleast twice in my life. 😛

Rohtang Tunnel

Rohtang Tunnel is a 8.8 km long horsh shoe shaped tunnel being built under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway by Border Road Organization (BRO). The tunnel is at 3,100 metres (10,171 ft) elevation whereas the Rohtang pass is at 3,978 metres (13,051 ft) elevation 51 km (32 mi) away from Manali. The pass receives heavy snowfall and blizzards during winter months and is open for road traffic for only four months in a year. The only other route through the Zoji La pass on the Srinagar-Drass-Kargil-Leh highway also gets blocked by snow for nearly four months in a year. These two routes are vital to feed military supplies into the sub-sector west (facing Aksai Chin) and the Siachen Glacier.

The project was conceived in 1983 and announced by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 3 June 2000. The project was estimated to cost ₹ 5 billion and be completed in seven years.On 6 May 2002, the BRO was entrusted with the construction of the tunnel, and on 23 May 2002, the work was inaugurated by Mr. Vajpayee. The cost of the project was revised to ₹13.35 billion, with an expected completion by 2010.

However the work did not progress much, with the project not moving beyond the tree-felling stage by May 2003. By December 2004, the project cost estimate had escalated to ₹17 billion In May 2007, the contract was awarded to SMEC (Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation) International Private Limited, an Australian company, and the completion date was revised to 2014. Despite multiple announcements that the work on the tunnel would begin in 2008,no progress had been made by November 2009.

The work was awarded to a joint venture of AFCONS Infrastructure Limited, an Indian construction company of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, and STRABAG AG, Austria in September 2009 after the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared the Rohtang Tunnel Project. The drilling of the Rohtang Tunnel through the Himalayan ranges began on 28 June 2010 at South Portal 30 km (19 mi) north of Manali. 

When completed the tunnel is also set to become the world longest tunnel at an altitude above 3,000 m or 10,000 ft. The 85 km distance from Manali to Keylong on the other side of Rohtang Pass is usually covered by vehicles in about five to six hours, without counting the long hours of traffic jams on the hilly route. The same distance would now be covered in less than half-an-hour through the tunnel and without traffic snarls. Keylong would be just 25 km from the North Portal of the tunnel.

However, the construction of Rohtang tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity only to the Lahaul Valley of Himachal Pradesh up to Keylong. The all-weather road to Ladakh will require more tunnels.

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Tourist rush in summer(Image: en.wikipedia.org)

The most challenging task is to continue the excavation during heavy snowfall in winter. Excavation for tunnelling is being done from both ends. However, as Rohtang pass closes during the winter, the north portal is not accessible during winter and the excavation is being done only from the south portal during the winter. Only about one-fourth of the entire tunnel will be excavated from the north end and three-fourths will be excavated from the south end.

Image result for rohtang pass manali

The road is cleared by BRO by mid-May for public use and closed by October end(Image: www.homestaymanali.in)

Another challenge was water ingress on the south portal side in 2012. Detected to a source from Seri Nullah, a glacier-fed rivulet flowing through the 562 metres in the tunnel cavity, it took until early 2016 to fix it. At one time BRO which stopped all work on the tunnel to fix the problem even considered changing the alignment.

Recent Updates

As of July 2016, 6.8 km of the tunnel digging had been completed.

In June 2016 Indian Express reported that the tunnel may be ready only by 2019-2020.

In August 2016 a bridge providing approach to the north face collapsed due to strong currents in the Chandra river while a truck was crossing it but the BRO assured that it would be restored in 4-5 days.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohtang_Tunnel

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/rohtang-tunnel-project-lahaul-spiti-snowfall-isolation-tourism-2878250/

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Water-ingress-loose-rocks-delay-boring-of-Rohtang-tunnel/articleshow/17274644.cms

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/supply-bridge-for-rohtang-tunnel-project-collapses-truck-driver-rescued-1451905

 

 

Disruption of Rail Traffic in Itarsi

On 17.06.2015, at about 0600 hours in the morning a fire broke out in the Route Relay Interlocking (RRI) room at Itarsi Railway Junction in Madhya Pradesh.

Signalling Relay Room system is a system by which all the signals and the points/crossings which are used for changing of routes at junction station are operated centrally from a cabin through electrical devices.Inspection of the Signalling Relay Room, after the fire was extinguished, has indicated extensive damage to Operation Panel, Indication Panel and all wiring. A considerable number of relays have also been badly damaged. As a result, complete train operation at Itarsi Station has been disrupted leading to severe detention to trains passing across Itarsi Station.

Itarsi Station is the critical junction station on Bombay-Bhopal, Bhopal-Nagpur and Bombay-Jabalpur-Allahabad route. This junction station deals with about 75 pairs of Mail/Express passenger trains every day and about 25 goods trains each way. Certain number of trains have been diverted through alternate routes and certain trains have been cancelled for a few days.

Railways has maintained that passengers can get updates of their trains by dialling 139 or logging onto enquiry.indianrail.gov.in/ntes.

Sources-PIB,Times of India

Indian Railways trials solar-powered trains to help cut pollution

Indian Railways is soon going to materialise its ambitious plan of harnessing solar energy to run trains.

The prototype of the solar power-enabled coach is undergoing trials, and soon the entire train will be fitted with solar panels, officials said.

They said that while solar power will significantly bring down diesel consumption, it will also prove to be cost-effective. At present, nearly 17 units of electricity are being generated from the solar power enabled coach.

As the pilot project, one non-AC coach has been fitted with solar panels on the rooftop. The trial has been successful so far with the coach generating nearly 17 units of electricity every day. Depending on its success, decision will be taken to convert the entire train into a solar power-enabled one,” said Divisional Railway Manager, Arun Arora.

Officials said that by harnessing solar power, the railways will be able to save Rs 1.24 lakh per coach year.

“Solar energy will be used to meet the electricity needs in moving trains, and reduce diesel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions,” Arora said.

According to studies, a train using solar power can reduce diesel consumption by up to 90,000 litres per year and also bring down the carbon dioxide emission by over 200 tonnes.

As per the plan, the train would be pulled by conventional diesel-run engines while solar panels will provide all the internal electricity needs for lights and fans on both AC and non-AC coaches.

Officials said India has huge solar power potential, with a good amount of sunlight available for a major part of the day round the year. Harnessing solar power to power Indian Railways is more feasible and cost-effective.

The clear motive of the project is to cut down on the railways’ fuel bill, which is the second-largest component of expenditure after the employee salaries for the cash-strapped government behemoth used by over 1.3 crore people every day.

In 2013-14, from the Rs 1.27 lakh crore of Indian Railways’ expenditure, nearly Rs 28,500 crore (22 per cent) were spent on fuel.

According to a Northern Railway official, 40 sqmetre of space is available on a train’s roof top. Of these, nearly 24 sq-metre of space is covered with 12 solar panels. The remaining 16 sq-metre of space can further accommodate six solar panels, officials said.

As per the mechanism, alternate coaches are provided with solar panels and when required electricity is fed from the adjoining coach.

Indian Railways has been focusing on alternate source of fuels with trials already on to use CNG, biodiesel and natural gas among others.

CNG is being used in local trains on Rohtak–Rewari section of Delhi Division. The dual fuel concept of using CNG and diesel has also helped in saving fuel and money.

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3106347/Indian-Railways-trials-solar-powered-trains-help-cut-pollution.html#ixzz3cmBExosl

Indian Railways wants public participation for upkeep of stations; seeks to build Rs 30,000 cr safety fund

Indian Railways today announced its plan to encourage corporates, NRIs, NGOs, institutions and even individuals to adopt a station for sprucing up passengers facilities and bring about an overall development.

It has also sought a special railway safety fund of Rs 30,000 crore from the Finance Ministry to eliminate all unmanned level-crossings in the country.

Announcing the policy measures here, Member Railway Board (Engineering) V K Gupta also talked about plans to construct elevated tracks for future projects, which would be more “economically viable” for the Indian railways.

Elaborating on moves to encourage adoption of stations, he said, a cabinet note has already been prepared about the programme and once it get the nod, the plan will be made public for feedback.

“We are also in touch with the Indian embassies in countries like Australia and Canada having a sizable Indian diaspora, who are willing to adopt such stations in their home towns,” he said, adding “this is purely a participatory venture”.

Railways have also identified stations such as Habibganj (Bhopal), Surat, Gandhinagar, Anand Vihar and Bijwasan here for conversion into world-class stations. These stations would be developed under the PPP mode and request for proposal has already been floated in case of Habibganj, he said.

Noting that Railways aim is to eliminate all level crossings in the country as promised in the Budget, Gupta said work has been sanctioned for 7700 such crossings on broad gauge routes.

“Besides, we have sought a special railway safety fund of Rs 30,000 crore from the Finance Ministry to expedite our targets,” he said, adding, 1150 crossings have been eliminated so far.

Railways, he said, has also set a target of laying 2500 km track this year and take the figure to 17,200 km by 2020.

The national transporter has about 429 projects for execution, of which 15 projects were completed last year. The estimated cost of completing all the projects has been pegged at Rs 3.45 lakh crore.

Gupta voiced confidence of expediting the projects on time as the budget this year has allocated Rs 36,300 crore for execution.

He also disclosed plans to have elevated tracks while taking up future projects, holding that they would be economically viable for railways.

“These tracks would be ballast-free, eliminate the possibility of level-crossings or road over and under bridges, and land requirement. Track maintenance would also become much easier,” he said, elaborating the benefits the policy would bring to the railways.

The proposed Chandigarh-Baddi rail link could be executed under the new policy, he said.

http://www.financialexpress.com/article/miscellaneous/indian-railways-seeks-public-participation-for-upkeep-of-stations/82915/