Railway Reforms

Sep, 16, 2019

[oped of the day] Mission successful, end product defunct

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


In October 2018, the country was celebrating a technological achievement: the successful rolling out of a state-of-the-art, semi-high-speed train set called ‘Train 18’. 

Facts behind its significance

  • It was achieved in an incredibly short time span of 18 months. 
  • Train 18 propelled India into the exclusive club of about a half a dozen countries in the world that have the capability to turn out a brand new design of a high-speed/semi-high-speed train set in such a short time.
  • The train has provided a trouble-free performance in the last six months. 

Challenges faced by the train

  • A vigilance investigation was launched into certain alleged procedural irregularities and allegations of undue favours shown to a particular indigenous firm in awarding contracts for the propulsion system.
  • It was also reported that deviations had been observed from the specifications prescribed by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO).
  • A few months after the train’s inauguration, it was announced that “the Railways would be willing to start the import of complete train sets from foreign suppliers if they agreed to establish the coach manufacturing facility in India. 
  • If contrasted with ISRO, it is like going in for import of its rockets and space vehicles from the U.S. or Russia.

What are the reasons behind failure

  • Though both ISRO and railways are public sector organisations and reflected the spirit of ‘Make in India’, their objectives and organisational structure are entirely different. 
  • While ISRO functions mostly in ‘mission mode’ to achieve specific goals of a mission, the Indian Railways operates in ‘maintenance mode’, to keep the wheels of the railway network moving with the least disruption. 
  • This aim of Railways is achieved through more than a dozen functional departments that normally work in close coordination.
  • Only certain specific projects or initiatives are undertaken in ‘mission mode’. The Train 18 project was one such undertaking that required the planners to cut red tape and reduce needless procedural hassles. 
  • The scourge of interdepartmental rivalries and turf wars within the Indian Railways has damaged the organisational morale and synergy in the functioning of the nation’s prime public transporter. 

Way ahead

  • A committee of experts under NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy gave its recommendations in 2015. 
  • The ‘Mission Train 18’ is proof that nothing has changed since then and that the departmental silos are alive and well.
  • Political leadership has to push for reforms in this area.
Sep, 02, 2019

India’s longest electrified railway tunnel between Cherlopalli and Rapuru (AP)


  • Vice President inaugurated the country’s longest electrified rail tunnel between Cherlopalli and Rapuru and the electrified railway line between Venkatachalam and Obulavaripalli.

About the tunnel

  • The 6.7-km-long tunnel is an “engineering marvel” and said it would provide viable rail connectivity between the Krishnapatnam Port and the hinterland for the seamless movement of freight.
  • It also reduces the distance for trains coming from Guntakal Division to Krishnapatnam by 72 km and eases traffic density in the Obulavaripalli-Renigunta-Gudur section.
  • This newly commissioned line of 112 km reduces the travel time to five hours as compared to the 10 hrs earlier for a goods train from Krishnapatnam Port to Obulavaripalli.
  • Besides facilitating operation of freight trains the new line would also provide the shortest path on the Chennai-Howrah and Chennai-Mumbai rail routes.
  • It would also ease congestion of both passenger and freight-carrying trains in the Vijayawada-Gudur-Renigunta-Guntakal sections.
Aug, 16, 2019

[pib] Commandos for Railway Security (CORAS)


CORAS (Commandos for Railway Security)

  • To tackle the threats to Railway passengers or establishments, a special task force having trained manpower was required.
  • Keeping in mind the threat from disruptive forces, induction of CORAS was planned in Railway Protection Force.
  • Commissioning of CORAS will address challenges to these ongoing projects as well as any challenging situation for Railway travellers.
  • The commandos in CORAS are well trained in reputed institutions and are capable of meeting any precarious situation.


  • To develop world level capabilities of specialized responder for any situation pertaining to damage, disturbance, disruption of train operations, attack/hostage/hijack, disaster situations in railway areas.
  • Following the doctrine of graded response, minimum effective force shall be used for providing fool proof security to Indian Railways and its users.

Salient features

  • Carved out from motivated and willing young staff of RPF/RPSF.
  • With an average age between 30-35 years, CORAS will always be young and motivated staff.
  • Very high physical standards to join CORAS.
  • Commando Coys shall be deployed in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)/Insurgency/Terrorism affected Railway areas.
Feb, 28, 2019

AP gets new railway zone called ‘South Coast Railway’


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: South Coast Railway Zone

Mains level: Importance of Railways Infrastructure


  • Indian Railways will be making a new zone in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh named ‘South Coast Railway’.
  • Indian Railways’ operations are currently divided into 17 zones, which are further sub-divided into divisions, each having a divisional headquarter. There are a total of 73 divisions at present.

South Coast Railway

  • As per item 8 of Schedule 13 (Infrastructure) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, Indian Railways was required to examine establishing a new railway zone in the successor State of AP.
  • The new zone named “South Coast Railway (SCoR)”, will comprise of existing Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions.
  • Waltair division shall be split into two parts.
  • One part of Waltair division will be incorporated in the new zone i.e. in South Coast Railway and will be merged with the neighbouring Vijaywada division.
  • Remaining portion of Waltair division shall be converted into a new division with headquarter at Rayagada under East Coast Railway (ECoR).
  • South Central Railway will comprise of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Nanded divisions.
Jan, 31, 2019

[pib] Railway Ministry launches the IEA’s Report “The Future of Rail”


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: “The Future of Rail” Report

Mains level: Importance of Railways Infrastructure


 “The Future of Rail” Report

  1. The first-of-a-kind report analyses the current and future importance of rail around the world through the perspective of its energy and environmental implications.
  2. Itexamines how the role of rail in global transport might be elevated as a means to reduce the energy use and environmental impacts associated with transport.
  3. The report reviews the impact of existing plans and regulations on the future of rail, and explores the key policies that could help to realize an enhanced future rail.
  4. This global report has a focus on India, elaborating on the unique social and economic role of rail in India, together with its great enduring potential, to show how India can extend and update its networks to harness rail at a scope and scale that is unparalleled.

India and the International Energy Agency (IEA)

  1. The IEA is an inter-governmental organisation that works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 30 member countries and 8 association countries.
  2. Its mission is guided by four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.
  3. India has been the focus of many recent IEA analyses and reports for instance through the special focus chapter on the Indian Power sector of the Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) publication and the World Energy Outlook (WEO).
  4. IEA has also held workshops and training programmes in India on energy data training, energy efficiency, strategic petroleum reserves, and the integration of renewables into the grid.
Jan, 07, 2019

Railway sets out new rules for Security checks


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Ensuring security at Railway Stations


  • Railways is planning to seal stations just like airports and passengers would have to arrive 15-20 minutes before scheduled departure of trains to complete the process of security checks.

New Security Plan by RPF

  1. These are part of a security plan under the Integrated Security System (ISS) which was approved in 2016 to strengthen surveillance mechanism at 202 railway stations.
  2. It is primarily about identifying openings and to determine how many can be closed.
  3. There are areas which will be closed through permanent boundary walls, others will be manned by RPF personnel and yet others will have collapsible gates.
  4. At each entry point there will be random security checks.
  5. However, unlike at airports, passengers need not come hours in advance, but just 15-20 minutes ahead of their departure times to ensure that they are not delayed because of the security process.
  6. Passengers will be checked randomly — every eighth or ninth passenger will undergo the process on his arrival at the station.

About Integrated Security System

  1. The ISS will comprise CCTV cameras, access control, personal and baggage screening system and bomb detection and disposal system which together provide multiple checking of passengers and baggage from the point of entry in the station premises till boarding of train.
  2. The security plan envisages a layered security check where passengers will be scrutinised even before they enter the station premises to ease the pressure at stations during peak hours.
  3. It will also include real-time face recognition software which will alert the RPF command centre of any known offenders.
Dec, 20, 2018

[pib] E-Drishti Software


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: E-Drishti

Mains level: Ensuring punctuality of Railways


  • An ‘e-Drishti’ interface has been unveiled for the Union Railway Ministry.

E-Drishti Software

  1. The E-Drishti software is developed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).
  2. This software includes an interface which provides summary information on punctuality of trains for the previous day.
  3. There is also an interface which provides information on current train running on the Indian Railway network.
  4. In addition, there are interfaces providing details of freight earning, freight loading and passenger earnings for the previous day & month and cumulative for the year, in comparison to the corresponding period of the previous year.

A punctuality drive

  1. Punctuality of passenger carrying trains is being also monitored rigorously to improve punctuality performance on a daily basis at Divisional, Zonal and Railway Board levels.
  2. To ensure running of trains right time when pairing trains are running late, scratch rakes are inducted and rakes are standardized to the extent operationally feasible.
  3. Besides, punctuality drives are launched from time to time and staff involved in train operations is sensitized.
  4. In addition, Zonal Railways have also been advised to have better coordination with Civil and Police authorities of states to deal with situations arising out of law and order problems.
Dec, 17, 2018

India’s 1st Railway University dedicated to nation


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NRTI

Mains level: Modernization of Railways


  •  Railway Ministry has dedicated India’s very first Railway University at Vadodara to nation.


  1. In 2014, PM Modi had announced the Railway University for the Research and Modernization of the Railway system of India.
  2. The Union Cabinet had approved the establishment of the first Rail University in Vadodara in Gujarat in Dec 2017, to promote human resource skills and capacity building.

National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI)

  1. The NRTI is a deemed university in Vadodara, had opened its doors to the first batch of students from various states in two fully-residential undergraduate courses in September this year.
  2. It has been established as a recognized University under UGC’s Honored University Institute Regulation, 2016.
  3. It is India’s first railway university and only third such in the whole world after Russia and China.
  4. In this year, two under-graduate programmes are being offered by the university in Transportation Technology and a BBA programme in Transportation Management.
  5. The university aims to start the master’s programme from 2019-20 academic sessions in areas such as Transportation and Systems Design, Transport Systems Engineering, Transport Policy and Economics, among others.
  6. The university has been working with foreign partners such as California, Berkeley and Cornell University.
Dec, 04, 2018

Train 18: Top features and facilities of the country's 'fastest train'


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about Train 18

Mains level: Modernization of Railways


India’s fastest train

  1. India’s first engine-less train-breached the 180 kmph speed threshold during a test run in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section, becoming the country’s fastest train.
  2. If trials go well it may replace the Shatabdi Express soon.

Top features and facilities

  • Aerodynamically designed driver cabins at both ends for quicker turn-around at destinations
  • Alternate coaches are motorized to ensure even distribution of power and faster acceleration or deceleration
  • Regenerative braking system to save power
  • Inter-connected, fully sealed gangways
  • Automatic doors with retractable footsteps
  • Onboard Wi-Fi and infotainment
  • GPS-based passenger information system
  • Modular toilets with bio-vacuum systems
  • Rotational seats which can be aligned in the direction of travel (executive class)
  • Roller blinds and diffused LED lighting
  • Disabled-friendly toilets
  • Emergency talk-back units to contact train crew
  • CCTVs in all coaches for safe and secure travel

In Numbers

  • Approximate cost of train: ₹100 crore
  • Possible peak speed: 200 kmph
  • Expected commencement of commercial run: Jan. 2019
  • Number of Train 18s in the pipeline: 5
  • Number of coaches: 116 (same as Shatabdi)
  • The time reportedly taken to conceive, design and develop the train: 18 months
Nov, 05, 2018

[pib] Indian Railways to eliminate Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) on Broad Gauge in a Mission Mode


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Eliminating UMLCs to prevent deadly accidents


Eliminating UMLCs

  • Indian Railway has taken a mission area to eliminate all Unmanned Level Crossings (UMLCs) on Broad Gauge and accordingly special efforts have been made so that elimination can be completed at the earliest.

What numbers say?

  1. As on April 2019, there were 3479 Unmanned Level Crossings on Broad Gauge routes.
  2. Total 3402 UMLCs have been eliminated in last seven months.
  3. Balance 77 UMLCs have also been planned to be eliminated by December 2018.
  4. Most of the UMLCs have been eliminated either by provision of Subway/RUBs or by manning.

Progress till date

  1. All Unmanned level crossings on routes having speed more than 130KMPH and on Sub-urban routes have been eliminated.
  2. 12 Zonal Railways have now become UMLC free on Broad Gauge route.
  3. By elimination of UMLCs on war footing, accidents at UMLCs have reduced from 65 in 2009-10 to 3 in 2018-19.

*Accident data is upto October’2018

Nov, 02, 2018

[pib] Railways rolls out All-India Unreserved Mobile Ticketing facility (UTS on Mobile)


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UTS on Mobile

Mains level: Digitization of Railways ticketing service



  • Ministry of Railways has introduced Unreserved Mobile Ticketing with a view to promote three C’s– Cashless transactions, Contact less ticketing and Customer convenience and experience.

UTS on Mobile

  1. Booking of unreserved tickets on all non-suburban sections across all Zonal Railways has been made available from November , 1st.
  2. It enables seamless booking of unreserved tickets all over Indian Railways which will obviate the need for passengers to wait in queues for purchasing the tickets.
  3. The facility of booking unreserved tickets, including season tickets and also platform tickets is available through the ‘UTSONMOBILE’ app available for Android, IOS and Windows phones.

Details of the app

  1. ‘UTSONMOBILE’ application is available for Android, IOS, Windows phones and can be downloaded from Google play or window store.
  2. It is developed by Indian Railway- CRIS.


  1. The process of ticket booking involves downloading the application and registration by furnishing the requisite details.
  2. After successful registration, the user is given credentials to book ticket through this application within the ticketing area and outside the Geo-fenced area.
  3. Geo-fenced area is station premises and train route within which ticket cannot be booked.
  4. The facility of making payment through all types of digital modes i.e. debit card, credit card, net-banking, UPI and other e-wallets has been introduced.


  1. Mobile Ticketing shall promote 3C’s- Cashless transactions, Contact less ticketing and Customer convenience.
  2. Seamless booking of unreserved tickets all over Indian Railways.
  3. Obviate the need for passengers to wait in queues for purchasing the tickets and enhance the experience for booking unreserved tickets – journey, season tickets, platform tickets.
  4. Environment friendly.
Oct, 27, 2018

India's first engine-less train set to hit tracks


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about Train 18

Mains level: Modernization of Railways



  • Train 18, India’s first engine-less train for inter-city travel is set to hit the tracks very soon.

Train 18

  1. Train 18 is a flagship train set; the first prototype has been built by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, in a record time of 20 months.
  2. It will be modified for subsequent production based on the feedback from RDSO (Research Designs and Standards Organisation).
  3. The train is a 100% ‘Make in India’ project and is claimed to be built at half the cost of a similar train set that is imported,

Notable features of the T-18

  1. T-18 is a self-propelled engine-less train (similar to the Metro trains) and is energy-efficient as its coaches will be fitted with LED lights.
  2. Coaches will have automatic doors and retractable footsteps,
  3. It will be inter-connected with fully sealed gangways along with a GPS-based Passenger Information System.
  4. It is provided with of Bio toilets.
  5. The full AC train is equipped to run at a speed of up to 160 kmph as against Shatabdi’s 130 kmph which will cut down travel time by 15 per cent.
Sep, 28, 2018

Railways to roll out smart coaches


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about the Smart Trains, Make in India initiatives.

Mains level: Modernization of Railways


Make in India “Smart Trains”

  1. The Indian Railways are set to launch their ‘Make in India’ smart coaches with new features like black box and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered CCTVs, matching international standards.
  2. Named ‘Smart Trains’, the coaches have been equipped with sensors that can detect defects on bearings, wheels, and the railway track, giving constant inputs to those in the control room to avoid accidents, carry out maintenance, and to improve efficiency of operations.

Black Box for these trains

  1. The black box is being introduced for the first time by Indian Railways, has a powerful multi-dimensional communication interface.
  2. It will provide information on passengers and coach condition on real-time basis.
  3. The black box will act as a coach control unit with communication interfaces for passenger announcements, GPS-based announcement triggers.
  4. It will also handle emergency intercom for commuters, digital destination boards, train reservation display modules, and CCTVs with remote monitoring.

Better Monitoring and Maintenance

  1. For wheel, coach and track monitoring, Railways have come up with Internet of Things-based system.
  2. The vibrating-energy-based sensors will monitor the wheels, bearing and hard spots on the track, and will provide data through GPS/GPRS to the remote server for diagnosis and remedial measures.
  3. The Passenger Information and Coach Computing Unit (PICCU), an industrial grade computer, will monitor the coach maintenance and passenger interface.
  4. Commuters will also be able to communicate with Railways officials.

CCTV recording

  1. AI-powered CCTVs will help those in the control room to keep a tab on untoward incidents and on the behaviour of on-board staff.
  2. Six cameras installed in the coach will provide live recording.
  3. The footage can be accessed from the control room, which will be advantageous for law enforcers.
  4. An emergency talk-back system will enable communication between passengers and the guard during a crisis. A Wi-Fi hotspot information system is another innovative feature.

Other details

  1. Smart coaches are also laden with water-level indicator technology to know whether the water in the coach is sufficient and when it needs to be filled.
  2. An SMS will be sent to the next watering station when the water level falls below half the coach capacity.
  3. In the version 2.0 of these coaches, the Railways are planning to introduce a host of new features.
  4. They will include video analytics with face detection feature; unusual occurrence feature; fire-and-smoke detection unit; and an energy-metering module to measure the energy consumption of the coach.
Sep, 20, 2018

100% railway electrification to double power demand by 2022


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Benefits of Electrification of Indian Railways.



  1. The CCEA has approved the proposal for electrification of balance un-electrified broad gauge routes of Indian Railways (IR) covering 13,675 route kilometers (16,540 track kilometers) likely to be completed by 2021-22.
  2. The proposed electrification, which is mainly for missing links and last mile connectivity will increase the operational efficiency, enhance the line capacity and improve the average speed of trains.

Benefits of Electrification

The benefits from this decision are listed below:

  • Capacity & Speed
  1. 100% electrification will provide seamless train operation by eliminating detention of trains due to change in traction from diesel to electric and vice versa.
  2. It will help Railways in enhancing line capacity due to higher speed & higher haulage capacity of electric locomotives
  • Safety

Improved signalling system will lead to enhanced safety in train operation

  • Energy Security
  1. In line with the new Auto Fuel Policy of the Government, total shift to electric traction will reduce fossil fuel consumption of about 2.83 billion liters per annum
  2. Reduced dependence on imported petroleum based fuels will ensure energy security to the nation
  • Energy bill savings
  1. Overall savings in fuel bill to the extent of Rs. 13,510 cr per annum. Electrification of sections covered under this decision will result in net savings of Rs. 3,793 cr per annum
  2. Regeneration facility of electric locomotives will save 15-20% energy
  3. Reduced overall requirement of electric loco due to higher horse power
  • Sustainability
  1. Reduced carbon footprint as environmental cost per Tonne Km for Electric Traction is 1.5 Paisa and for Diesel Traction 5.1 paisa
  2. In line with commitment made by India in COP21, total shift to electric traction will reduce CO2 emission of Railways by 24% till 2027-28
  3. Green house gas emission for electric traction will fall below diesel traction by 2019-20 making it environmentally friendly option.
  • Employment Generation

Direct employment during construction phase for about 20.4 crore Man days.

Major Hurdle: Doubled Power Demand

  1. However the power requirement for broad gauge will increase from 2,000 megawatts (MW) to 3,400MW, while the two dedicated freight corridors will require another 600MW.
  2. The 2,000MW is only for train operations and if we add non-traction consumption like use of electricity at workshops, railway stations, offices, etc., it will need to add another 400MW.

About Railway Energy Management Co. Ltd (REMCL)

  1. Power used by railways is procured by Railway Energy Management Co. Ltd (REMCL), a joint venture of the Indian Railways and RITES Ltd.
  2. Set up in 2013, REMCL is primarily responsible for tapping the business potential of the energy sector. It currently caters to 60% of railways’ power needs.
  3. Indian Railways uses energy from both renewable and non-renewable resources.
  4. It is setting up various renewable energy power plants through its subsidiary REMCL, including 1,000MW of solar power and 200MW of wind power.
Sep, 12, 2018

[pib] “Rail Sahyog” web portal


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rail Sahyog Portal

Mains level: ICT initiatives by Indian Railways



The Minister of Railways and Coal has launched a web portal Rail Sahyog to provide a platform for the Corporates and PSUs to contribute to creation of amenities at/near Railway Stations through CSR funds.

Rail Sahyog Portal

  1. The portal has been envisaged as a platform for all including individuals as also private & public organisation to contribute towards CSR activities in association with Indian Railways.
  2. The companies desirous of contributing can show willingness on the portal by registering their requests which will be processed by Railway officials.
  3. This portal will provide an opportunity for Industry/ Companies/ Associations to collaborate with Railways. Individuals, Private companies have the freedom to execute projects in Railways.
  4. The main focus is on ensuring creation of good quality assets through this collaboration.

CSR Funded activities in Railways

  • Construction of toilets in circulating areas of all stations with provision of low cost sanitary pad vending machine & incinerator in female toilets and contraceptives vending machine in male toilets and initial one year maintenance.
  • Providing free Wi-Fi at stations through setting up Hotspots.
  • Provision of Benches at station Platforms as facility for senior citizens/disabled.
  • Bottle crushing machines at 2175 major stations for ensuring environmental sustainability.
  • Dustbins at all stations for Swachh Bharat will help in preventing littering around.
  • Separate dustbins for wet/dry waste need to be provided at circulating area of Station and Platforms.
Sep, 08, 2018

[pib] Various IT initiatives by Indian Railways to improve train operations and provide better passenger experience


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various IT initiative mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: The newscard provides an overview of various ICT initiatives by Indian Railways.



  1. Indian Railways has always focused on adoption of new technologies to improve train operations and provide better passenger experience to its customers.
  2. In this series, IR has introduced various IT initiatives.

Real Time Train Information System (RTIS)

  1. Railways have experimented with tracking of trains using GPS devices with these GPS devices located in the locomotive.
  2. For a sustainable solution, a Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) is being implemented, whereby GPS tracking devices would communicate using satellite communications.  The trials have been successful.
  3. Apart from this, data logger systems already available in track circuited stations are being used at major interchange points to capture arrival/departure information on trains.

Computerised Train Signal Register

  1. In an effort to computerise the transactions of the station master, a Computerised Train Signal Register is going live at 650 stations.
  2. This enables arrival/departure information to be transmitted to the Control Office Application (COA) and the National train Enquiry System (NTES) directly from the station master’s desk.

Handheld Terminals for TTEs

  1. Handheld Terminals (HHTs) are being provided to the Train Ticket Examiners (TTEs) to be able to check the reserved coaches, allot the vacant berths and transmit information on available berths to the subsequent stations.
  2. The HHT can also access the ticketing application and collect excess fares as per rules.
  3. The terminal can potentially connect to a Point of Sale (POS) machine and charges can be collected digitally.

Modernisation of Ticketing Website (IRCTC)

  1. Over the last four years, the capacity of the website has increased to 20,000 tickets per minute starting from 2000 tickets per minute in 2014, a ten-fold increase.
  2. Apart from the capacity, the entire user experience has been improved substantially with the launch a new interface with easier navigation and standard views that enable the passengers to transact smoothly.
  3. New features have been added that enable better planning of journeys aiding the passenger to obtain confirmed tickets.

Paperless Unreserved Ticketing through Mobile Phones

  1. Paperless Unreserved ticketing on mobile phones was launched on 25.12.2014 at Mumbai.
  2. This has eliminated the need for passengers to stand in queue for getting tickets for journey in unreserved compartments of trains.
  3. The ticket is delivered on the Mobile Phone and is embedded with QR Code.
  4. This service has added to passenger convenience.  About 4 lakh passengers per day are booking tickets on Mobile phones.

Indian Railway e-Procurement System (IREPS):

  1. Complete tendering activity of Indian Railways for procurement of goods, services & works and e-auction of scrap sale is on IREPS.
  2. IREPS system is largest such G to B portal in India.
  3. It has helped in achieving objectives of transparency, efficiency and improving of ease of doing business.
  4. 90,000 vendors have registered themselves on IREPS website.
  5. Central Vigilance Commission has recognized and awarded the system under “Vigilance Excellence Award – 2017” for outstanding contribution in the category of “IT initiatives for transparency in the organization”.
Aug, 10, 2018

[pib] Train Captain Service


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Train Captain

Mains level: Not Much


Train Captain

  1. Ministry of Railways has introduced the concept of Train Captain.
  2. He will be the single person/leader responsible for coordinating the entire team and facilitating all services during the complete journey of the train.
  3. In trains like Rajdhani/ Shatabdi/ Duronto and other trains where a Train Superintendent (TS) is on end to end basis, TS shall be nominated as “Train Captain” and made responsible for all the facilities on train.
  4. In all other trains, where TS is not present, Zonal Railways are to nominate the senior most ticket checking staff as Train Captain.
Jul, 28, 2018

These two freight corridors will change the way India transports goods


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DFC, DFCCIL

Mains level: Initiatives for making freight transport cheaper, rapid and feasible


Inaugurating first DFC

  1. India is all set to get its first publicly owned freight corridors on August 15.
  2. It is a 190-km railway line between Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and Phulera in Rajasthan, which fall under the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC).

Dedicated freight corridors (DFC)

  1. These are freight-only railway lines to move goods between industrial heartlands in the North and ports on the Eastern and Western coasts.
  2. The dedicated freight-only lines are being built along the four key transportation routes – known as the Golden Quadrilateral and connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Howrah and its two diagonals (Delhi – Chennai and Mumbai – Howrah).
  3. Covering a total of 10,122 km, these corridors carry the heaviest traffic and are highly congested.
  4. The route carries 52 per cent of passenger traffic and 58 per cent of freight traffic, according to the Make-in-India report of 2017.

What is the need of Dedicated Freight corridors?

  1. The above-mentioned routes are highly saturated, with line capacity utilisation reaching as high as 150 per cent.
  2. Considering increased transport demands, overtly congested routes and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with road transport, the government had proposed this initiative.
  3. These freight corridors will help reduce the cost and allow faster transportation.
  4. Along with that, Indian Railways will open new avenues for investment, as this will lead to the construction of industrial corridors and logistic parks along these routes.

Benefits of the DFCs

  1. Freight corridor will permit the trains to carry higher loads, in a more reliable manner.
  2. These lines are also being built to maximize speeds to 100 km an hour, up from the current average freight speed of 20 km an hour.
  3. Freight corridor envisages long-haul operations with trailing loads to increase from 5,000 to 15,000 tonnes and container capacity will go up to 400 per train.
  4. The DFCs will allow much shorter transit times from freight source to destination which means it will reduce the time by up to 50 per cent in some cases.
  5. DFCs made possible by higher freight volumes without substantial investment in infrastructure, increased axle load, reduction of turn-round time, reduced unit cost of transportation, rationalization of tariffs resulting in improvement in market share and improved operational margins.


Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL)

  1. The DFCCIL is a corporation run by the Ministry of Railways (India) to undertake planning & development, mobilisation of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors.
  2. DFCC has been registered as a company under the Companies Act 1956 on 30 October 2006.
  3. It is both enabler and beneficiary of other key Government of India schemes, such as and Industrial corridor, Make in India, Startup India, Standup India, Sagarmala, Bharatmala, UDAN-RCS, Digital India, BharatNet and UMANG.
  4. The DFCC is one of the largest ever infrastructure projects being undertaken by railways since 1947.

DFCs Under implementation:

  1. Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, 1,468 km from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai.
  2. Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, (Ludhiana, 1,760 km from Punjab to Dankuni in West Bengal .

Approved in January 2018:

  1. East-West Dedicated Freight Corridor, 2,000 km-long from Kolkata to Mumbai
  2. North-South Dedicated Freight Corridor, 2,173 km long from Delhi to Chennai
  3. East Coast Dedicated Freight Corridor, 1,100 km long from Kharagpur to Vijayawada
  4. South-West Dedicated Freight Corridor, 890 km-long from Chennai to Goa, this DFC goes through Bangalore-Chennai Industrial Corridor promoted by Japan & India and as a part of Bangalore-Mumbai Economic corridor promoted by UK & India.
Jul, 28, 2018

[pib] Indian Railways Launches “Mission Satyanishtha”


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mission Satyanishtha

Mains level: Read the attached story


Mission Satyanishtha

  1. In first of its kind event held by any government organization, the Indian Railways organized a programme on Ethics in Public Governance and Launched “Mission Satyanishtha”.
  2. The issue of Ethics, Integrity and probity in public life has been a matter of concern all over the government sector.
  3. This mission aims at sensitizing all railway employees about the need to adhere to good ethics and to maintain high standards of integrity at work.
  4. Talks and Lectures on the subject are being organised all over the Indian Railways today for this purpose.
  5. The objectives of the Mission are:
  • To train every employee to understand the need and value of ethics in Personal and Public life.
  • To deal with ethical dilemmas in life and Public Governance.
  • To help understand the policies of Indian Railways on ethics and integrity and the employee’s role in upholding the same.
  • To develop inner governance through tapping inner resources.
Jul, 10, 2018

[pib] Indian Railways introduces First Double Stack Dwarf Container Service


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Double Stack Dwarf Container Services

Mains level: Making Railway freight transport profitable.


  1. In order to capture the lost traffic through new delivery model for domestic cargo, Indian Railways has introduced Double Stack Dwarf Container Services.
  2. This freight train was flagged off from Western Railway’s Rajkot railway station on its maiden commercial run.

 Specifications of the Container

  1. The Double Stacked Container is 6 ft 4 inches in height and can run on electrified tracks.
  2. In comparison with regular containers, these containers are 662 mm short but 162 mm wider.
  3. Presently, due to its height, the regular double stack ISO containers can run only on few chosen routes on Indian Railways but these short-heighted Double Containers can run on most tracks very easily.
  4. These containers in double stack formation can run under 25kV overhead lines.


  1. The dwarf containers can hold a volume of approximately 67% more when compared to traditional containers.
  2. Despite being smaller in size, the dwarf containers can hold a capacity of 30,500 kgs.
  3. With the use of these double-stack dwarf containers, the cost of the unit will be significantly reduced due to the rail transport being cheaper than the road.
  4. Currently, ‘ Low-Density Products’, such as plastic granules, PVC polyester fabric, white goods, FMCG products, polyethene, auto car, etc. are being transported mostly by road.
  5. But due to the low cost of transportation in dwarf containers, Railways now offers a viable transport.
  6. At the general freight rate, the double-stack dwarf container trains can generate more than 50% of the revenue.
Jun, 12, 2018

[pib] Railway Ministry and Coal launches “Rail Madad” – An App to expedite &streamline passenger grievance redressal


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models etc,

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RPGRAMS, Rail Madad

Mains level: Read the attached story


RPGRAMS – Rail Madad (Mobile Application for Desired Assistance During travel)

  1. RPGRAMS (Railway Passenger Grievance Redressal and Management System), which has been developed by Northern Railway (Delhi Division) comprises many novel features including ‘Rail Madad’.
  2. It is a mobile App to register complaints by passengers through mobile phone/web. 
  3. It relays real time feedback to passengers on the status of redressal of their complaints- the passenger gets an instant ID through SMS on registration of complaint followed by a customized SMS communicating the action taken thereon by Railway.
  4. RPGRAMS integrates all the passenger complaints received from multiple modes (14 offline/online modes currently) on a single platform, analyzes them holistically and generates various types of management reports.

Utility of the App

  1. This enables the top management to continuously monitor the pace of grievance redressal as well as evaluate the performance of field units/ trains/ stations on various parameters viz cleanliness, catering, amenities etc.
  2. It also identifies weak/deficient areas and laggard trains/stations for undertaking focussed corrective actions.

Salient features of Rail Madad application are-

  1. Rail MADAD  registers a complaint with minimum inputs from passenger(option of photo also available), issues unique ID instantly and relays the complaint online to relevant field officials for immediate action.
  2. The  action taken on complaint is also relayed to passenger through SMS, thus fast tracking the entire process of redressal of complaints through digitisation.
  3. Rail MADAD also displays various helpline numbers (e.g., Security, Child helpline etc) and provides direct calling facility for immediate assistance in one easy step
  4. All modes of  filing complaints including offline and online modes are being integrated on a single platform, therefore the resultant management reports present a holistic picture of weak/deficient areas and  enable focused corrective action by officials concerned.
  5. The data analysis would also generate trends on various performance parameters of a selected train/station like cleanliness, amenities etc thus making managerial decision more precise and effective.
May, 04, 2018

What Railways hope to learn from German Rail


Mains Paper 3:  Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Linke Hoffman Busche (LHB) coaches

Mains level: Steps taken for railway modernization


Study tour to Germany

  1. In June, Indian Railways probationers will head to Berlin to study Deutsche Bahn (DB), one of the best-performing and advanced railway systems in the world, and Europe’s largest
  2. In the five working days that each group will spend in Germany, they will see DB’s operations, engineering and human resource management

Indian Railway & Germany

  1. Indian Railways have had a decades-old relationship with the Germans in technology intake and business
  2. The Linke Hoffman Busche (LHB) coaches, in use in India for passenger travel, came from Germany in 2000

What recruits might bring back

  1. Berlin’s main train station is a separate profit center that pays for itself through commercial utilization of space and other non-fare revenue — similar to what India hopes to do with its grand station redevelopment plan
  2. Study of DB’s high-speed service, called ICE, is intended to give the recruits an idea of how a bullet train is run
  3. Planners of the tour believe it is important to see how a giant system like DB is integrated in public life
  4. DB takes in interns from among students of engineering and management. There are short summer internships in various subsidiaries as well
  5. Indian Railways have been trying to open its doors to similar internships
  6. An introduction to a global benchmark in customer satisfaction, punctuality, cleanliness, business strategies, is expected to help young recruits visualise IR’s own success story


Linke Hoffman Busche (LHB) coaches

  1. LHB coaches are the passenger coaches of Indian Railways that have been developed by Linke-Hofmann-Busch of Germany
  2. These coaches are produced by Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, Punjab
  3. The coaches are designed for an operating speed up to 160 km/h and could go up to 200 km/h
  4. During derailment or collision, these coaches do not climb over each and crash because of a special type of CBC (center buffer coupler)
May, 01, 2018

[pib] 9th India-Japan Energy Dialogue

News :

The 9thIndia Japan Energy Dialogue was held in New Delhi.

  • Both Japan and India, as the third and the seventh largest economies respectively, recognized that having access to reliable, clean and economical energy is critical for their economic growth and in achieving this, both Ministers agreed on further strengthening of bilateral energy cooperation for energy development of both countries.
  • Both India and Japan with a view to implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognized the importance of development and deployment of next generation technologies including hydrogen to realize de-carbonization.


Jan, 16, 2018

[pib] Launching of Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) Application


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SFOORTI App

Mains level: Digitization in railways


  • In a major digital initiative to help plan the traffic flows and optimize freight operations Railways has launched a new app
  • Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) App for Freight Managers which provides features for monitoring and managing freight business using Geographic Information System (GIS) Views and Dashboard


  • With this application, movement of freight trains on Geographic Information System (GIS) view can be tracked
  • Both passenger and freight trains can be tracked over Zones/Divisions/ Sections in single GIS View.
  • Freight business can be monitored
  • Comparative Analysis of Zonal/Divisional Traffic
  • Analysis of new traffic captured and traffic lost
  • This app provides a Bird’s eye view of all Freight Assets in a single window
  • Provides end to end Rake movement on Geospatial view
  • Expected Traffic at Interchange points to evaluate daily performance can be viewed
  • Performance of each zone and divisions with respect to loading and utilization of freight assets can be viewed.
  • Sectional performance monitoring for sections, divisions and zones shall help in traffic routing
  • Freight terminal and sidings can be better monitored to ensure better turnaround of rakes
Jan, 11, 2018

[pib] Mission Raftar of Indian Railways


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mission Raftaar, Golden Quadrilateral

Mains level: Overhaul of railway infrastructure


  • To increase the speed of trains in Indian Railways, ‘Mission Raftaar’ was announced in the Railway Budget 2016-17
  • The mission envisages a target of doubling of average speed of freight trains and increasing the average speed of all non-suburban passenger trains by 25 kmph  in the next 5 years

Routes of Mission Raftaar

  • Six routes on Golden Quadrilateral and diagonals namely, Delhi – Mumbai, Delhi – Howrah, Howrah- Chennai, Chennai – Mumbai, Delhi – Chennai and Howrah – Mumbai
  • Golden Quadrilaterals and its Diagonal routes have been prioritized for replacement of loco hauled short distance passenger trains by MEMUs/DEMUs having better acceleration and deceleration characteristics for fast pickup and braking
Jan, 05, 2018

Three Ministries join hands for a technology mission for railways


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Technology Mission for Indian Railways

Mains level: Steps being taken for railway modernization


MoU on Technology Mission for Indian Railways (TMIR)

  1. Three Central Ministries have come together to drive a technology mission for Indian Railways
  2. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Technology Mission for Indian Railways (TMIR) was signed on Thursday by the Ministries of Railways, Human Resource Development (HRD), and Science and Technology


  1. It would be beneficial for both the national transporter and academic and research institutions
  2. The Indian Railways would get the world-class technologies and academic and research institutions would get involved in numerous applied research projects which would help them in reorienting research towards national objectives
  3. The agreement will “facilitate collaboration and cooperation” between the Ministries

Working of agreement

  1. The funding component of the Railways Ministry is 30 percent, the HRD ministry is 25 percent and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) 25 percent
  2. The Technology Mission will take up research and development projects in the areas of heavy haul, safety, energy, environment and urban railways
  3. The projects will be implemented through a Mission Implementation and Coordination Committee having members from the three ministries, academia and the industry
  4. The projects will be implemented in the national research and development labs and academic institutions
  5. Collaborations, wherever essential, will be entered into with similar foreign institutions
Dec, 25, 2017

[pib] Hi-Tech System To Detect Railway Track Defects


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Track Recording Cars (TRC), Oscillation Monitoring System (OMS), Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT)

Mains level: Rail accidents and ways to reduce them


  1. Indian Railways is using Track Recording Cars (TRC) and Oscillation Monitoring System (OMS) for detection of track defects in addition to manual inspection.
  2. Ultrasonic Flaw Detection is also done using Single Rail Tester (SRT) and Double Rail Tester (DRT) to check internal defects in rails
  3. Procurement of six nos. Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT) Car for detection of internal defects in rails is also planned

Other measures

  1. It has been decided to undertake a trial of Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection (UBRD) System, Rail Fracture & Intrusion Detection System using distributed optical fibre sensing and Loco-Vision Analytics and Rail Integrity Monitor system (RIM) on some stretches for detection of the broken rail
  2. Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) based rail fracture detection system is planned on trial basis on some stretches of Northeast Frontier Railway and North Central Railway
  3. The implementation of Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection (UBRD) System, Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) based System and Loco-Vision Analytics and Rail Integrity Monitor system (RIM) shall be decided after successful completion of trial
Dec, 06, 2017

Railways appoints IRSDC as nodal agency for station redevelopment plan


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the IRCDC

Mains level: Infrastructure development is an important part of the Mains Syllabus


Attempt to expedite the revamp of Railway Stations

  1. Indian Railways has decided to appoint its joint venture company Indian Railway Station Development Corp. Ltd (IRSDC) as the nodal agency for its ambitious station redevelopment programme
  2. Under the Rs1 trillion station redevelopment plan, Indian Railways plans to revamp 400 railway stations by monetizing 2,700 acres of spare railway land

Particulars of the IRCDC

  1. The Railway Board took the decision to appoint IRSDC following recommendations by a three-member expert committee
  2. IRCDC is a joint-venture firm of Ircon International Ltd and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA)
  3. The company had vast experience of station redevelopment planning, execution and monitoring, which is not available with other departments and officers of the railway ministry

Budget details of the project

  1. the total project cost for the revamp of 400 stations will be around Rs107,000 crore
  2. Of this, Rs28,000 crore will be for station redevelopment, Rs68,000 crore for commercial development
  3. And the remaining Rs11,000 crore would be surplus with the Railways following monetization of land
Dec, 04, 2017

Railways eyeing 2022 launch for hi-speed network interconnecting four metros


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the project “Golden Quadrilateral”

Mains level: Infrastructure projects are crucial for the Indian Economy. Also, the topic is specially mentioned in the Mains Syllabus


Ambitious project of Indian Railways

  1. Indian railway is planning, for the launch of a high-speed network of trains running at 160 kmph, in 2022
  2. The plan is to interconnect four major metros—Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata
  3. The current average speed of trains on this network is around 88-90kmph

“Golden Quadrilateral”

  1. The project is named as “Golden Quadrilateral”
  2. the project envisages creation of a 10,000km network of semi-high speed routes connecting the four major cities and is likely to be launched on 15 August 2022
    (to coincide with 75 years of Independence)
  3. The project has been appraised by Niti Aayog and is awaiting cabinet sanction

Budget for the project

  1. The Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah routes were included in Budget 2017-2018 at a cost of Rs11,189 crore and Rs6,975 crore respectively
  2. the estimates for the other four routes are under process for inclusion in the works programme 2018-2019
  3. An extra budgetary allocation of around Rs36,000 crore will be required for the project.
Nov, 29, 2017

[op-ed snap] One giant leap, for all


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) project, dedicated freight corridors, Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh

Mains level: Modernisation of Railways and related issues


The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) project

  1. This project is the most ambitious and largest rail project envisaged in India
  2. It will propel India to the elite league of nations that run high-speed trains and is, therefore, also a project that would symbolise and instil national pride
  3. At over 300 kmph, it would also mark a paradigm shift for the Indian Railways (IR), which still has average speeds in the range of 50 and 23 kmph for passenger and goods trains respectively

About High Speed Rail (HSR)

  1. HSR, defined in terms of speeds above 250 kmph (MAHSR is designed for maximum speed of 350 kmph and operational speed of 320 kmph), does not represent an incremental improvement over conventional systems, but combines technologies to take rail travel to new dimensions
  2. Presently, only 15 countries have HSR

Benefits of HSR

  1. Wherever HSR has been built, it has brought about profound development over corridors in terms of economic opportunities, employment and environment-friendly transport
  2. In all cases, a massive shift away from air travel and automobiles has also been noticed
  3. Closer economic linkages will convert the entire corridor into an economic cluster
  4. Other benefits that would come with the project are generation of employment of about 40,000 persons during the construction phase, skill upgradation of local residents who will engage with the project and that of railway personnel who would be trained at the state-or-the-art High-speed Training Centre
  5. The project would generate demand for transport and warehousing due to high cement and steel requirements

Poor safety record of railways

  1. There have been multiple rail accidents in recent past
  2. This has been due to:
  • surface crossings
  • habitations close to tracks and
  • the low margin for maintenance

Initiatives by Indian Railways to improve safety

  1. Major upgradation efforts comprising of two dedicated freight corridors, improvements to signalling, new coaching and freight stock and over 20,000 km of doubling, quadrupling, gauge conversion, etc, are in the offing
  2. To improve safety, a Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh, with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore to be spent over in five years, has been set up with a focus on asset renewal and elimination of unmanned level crossings

Way Forward

  1. MAHSR is a futuristic project
  2. India can’t remain satisfied with average speeds of 50 kmph for passenger trains forever
  3. IR shuold look at a leap of technology
Oct, 23, 2017

Government may have to foot bill for rail safety fund


Mains Paper 3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Prelims: RRSK

Mains level: Not much, RRSK fund can be mentioned in GS answers.



  1. The Ministry of Railways may ask the Finance Ministry to fund its share of the railway safety fund that is, Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) this year as the public utility is has an earnings shortfall of at least ₹10,000 crore in 2017-18.
  2. The actual income of the Indian Railways was 8.45% lower than the targeted earnings.
  3. Although the Railways’ passenger and goods earnings had increased this year compared with the last year, its sundry earnings had declined sharply by during this period.
  4. Income from non-fare revenues, including land lease, advertising, PSU dividends and catering department, form part of the sundry earnings.

Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh- The Safety Fund

  1. Finance Minister had announced the setting up a special safety fund with a corpus of more than ₹1 lakh crore over a period of five years in Budget 2017-18.
  2. In the first six months of the current financial year, the Indian Railways had utilised a quarter of the safety fund.
  3. The Finance Ministry advised the Ministry of Railways to prioritise deploying RRSK funds on areas that reduce chances of human error and ensure training of safety staff.


Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh

  1. It has been set up on the recommendations of a high-level safety review committee under Dr. Anil Kakodkar.
  2. The fund is utilised for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system, and safety work at level crossing, among other things.
  3. It is a non lapsable safety fund over a period of five years.
  4. The Finance Ministry would contribute ₹15,000 crore annually towards the fund, the Ministry of Railways would fund the balance ₹5,000 crore every year.
Sep, 26, 2017

[op-ed snap] Waiting for a signal


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Not mcuh

Mains level: ‘Safety of passengers’ has become a hot topic of discussion due to recent railway accidents



  1. The article talks about the current issues that railways is facing these days. It also suggests some solutions for the same

Issues with Indian Railways

  1. For decades the lack of consistent political direction has affected the Railways
  2. The country lacks civilian expertise on railway matters and only a few politicians are interested in the railways
  3. But the Railway officers are professional and have the expertise

Importance of Ministry-Railway Board relationship 

  1. Policy results are determined by the Ministry-Railway Board relationship
  2. And how much the Minister is willing to follow professional advice, especially when it does not compatible with the political compulsions of pleasing constituencies

Issues aroused due to unwanted interference in railway projects(by the politicians)

  1. Unplanned introduction of trains
  2. Subsidising passenger fares by overcharging freight
  3. Investment in unwanted new facilities
  4. Modernisation and induction of new technologies without a plan

What can we learn from the recent train accidents?

  1. The accident shows that the numbers of trains have now reached a level where field staff are unable to carry out maintenance

Reasons behind frequent accidents

  1. The situation is the outcome of pursuing three inconsistent goals at the organisational level
  2. These are
    (1) moving more people by continuously adding trains even when sections are saturated
    (2) focussing on increasing speed and punctuality
    (3) diverting freight earnings to subsidise passenger fares

The way forwards

  1. Railway has to make difficult political decisions such as cutting back on trains on saturated sections, at least until the system can recoup its capacities
  2. There is also a need to restore the well-established practice of field inspections at all levels to grasp what is happening in the field
  3. Ministry needs to ensure money for maintenance and replacement of aged assets
  4. This should be done by freeing freight from subsidising passenger fares through a subvention from the general Budget
Sep, 08, 2017

[op-ed snap] Covering The Tracks


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The article touches an important issue of over utilisation of railway tracks which is the most probable reason behind the trains accidents in India.



  1. The article talks about the over utilisation of the Railway Tracks

Important Question

  1. Why is Indian Railway not able to safely carry trains at 100 to 130 km/hr when railways elsewhere are carrying trains at a much higher speeds of 160 to 200 km/hr?

Possible reason behind the recent accident near Khatauli station on 19 august

  1. One of the most possible reason behind this accident is the excessive over-utilisation of the lines
  2. The section where the accident occurred carries 35 trains a day against a capacity of 25 trains
  3. Reportedly, block (temporary suspension of traffic) for carrying out repairs to a broken rail was refused
  4. The maintenance staff started the repairs just when the train approached the site at full speed and derailed

Data on excessive Utilisation

  1. According to the latest data, utilisation exceeds the capacity on 65 per cent of busy routes
  2. It is 120 per cent to 150 per cent on 32 per cent of the routes, and utilisation exceeds 150 per cent on 9 per cent of the routes
  3. For optimal performance, utilisation should be 80 to 90 per cent of the capacity

Consequences of the Excessive Utilisation

  1. Over-utilisation is leaving little time for safety inspections and essential maintenance of track and other infrastructure as well as the rolling stock

Issues with IR working

  1. The focus of IR has shifted to somehow keep trains running, leading to all sorts of maladies like inter-departmental tussles and low morale
  2. Arguably, IR has one of the highest incidences of accidents due to material, equipment and human failures

The Way Forward

  1. Indian Railways has remained stuck at 130 km/hr since 1969
  2. It’s time to shift focus to the core network that carries more than 80 per cent of the total traffic
  3. The upgrading the trunk routes which were repeatedly deferred should be undertaken on a priority basis so that the entire nation can realise the benefits of faster and safer travel
  4. Else, safety on Indian Railway will only worsen
Aug, 18, 2017

[op-ed snap] Going off track

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Q.) “PPP model has not succeeded in metro rail projects. New policy overlooks lessons from past ventures.” How can government counter this challenge from past?

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Important step for improving the condition of Indian Transport System.



  1. The article is related to new Metro Policy of the government

New Metro Policy

  1.  The Union Cabinet has approved the new Metro Rail Policy 
  2. It focused on on development of projects, collaborations, participation, standardising norms, financing and creating a procurement mechanism
  3. With this, projects can be implemented effectively
  4. Also, it allows respective states to formulate rules and regulations and it empowers them to establish permanent fare fixation authorities

Conditions under the new policy

  1. According to the new policy, the Metro rail projects will be approved and aided by the Central government only in one condition
  2. If their is private participation and the projects ensures last-mile connectivity for commuters

Better Rate of Return

  1. The projects, under the new policy will now be cleared on the basis on economic internal rate of return of 14%
  2. This is considered one of the widely followed best practices
  3. It will alter the system that runs on the current financial internal rate of return of 8%

Three models outlined in the Policy
(All three models have a mandatory requirement of private participation)
(1) Public-Private Partnership with Central assistance

  1. It will be part of the Union Finance Ministry’s viability gap funding scheme

(2) Grant by Centre 

  1. 10% of Metro project cost will be provided by the Central government as lump sum amount

(3) Equity sharing

  1. 50-50% Equity sharing model taken between the Centre and state

Issues with PPP Model

  1. The capital-intensive nature of such projects does not allow private players to get a return on their investments unless they hike their fares steeply
  2. And the metro has several issues that make it crucial for the government to subsidise it
  3. Private players look for a return of around 12-15 per cent, while no metro project has yielded an investment return of more than 3 per cent

The way forward

  1. As Indian cities expand, the metro will be an important constituent of the transport mix
  2. The new policy can be good for Indian Transport system, but the issues should be dealt with caution
Aug, 07, 2017

Subsidise railway losses, directs PMO


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Capital-at-charge

Mains level: The issue arose due to merger of Normal and Railway Budget. Hence, important for UPSC.



  1. Every year, the Ministry of Finance reimburses the Indian Railways operational losses incurred on six strategic lines and railway lines in hilly, coastal and backward areas
  2. But after the Budget merger, the Ministry of Finance argued that since the ‘capital-at-charge’ of the Railways, would be wiped-off
  3. And thus the subsidy payment in the form of reimbursement of losses on strategic lines and other concessions will be discontinued
  4. What is ‘Capital-at-charge’: It represents the total investment made by the central government in the Railways

PMO decision

  1.  The PMO found the above argument by Ministry of Finance, unviable
  2. Now, the Railways will get around Rs. 1,200 crore as reimbursement for operating such loss-making routes(for 2017-18)
May, 01, 2017

Some way to go before the finish

  • The Railway Ministry’s plans to allow private companies to run freight trains from their own private terminals
    may lead to faster evacuation of cargo, but the proposed move is faced with multiple challenges
  • As per the plans, companies and manufacturers that transport bulk of their produce through the railway
    network would be allowed to set up their own private terminals from where their own trains would ply to
    delivery centers.
  • These private trains will run on Indian Railways’ tracks and the operations of the trains will remain with the
  • This is as per the provisions of the Special Freight Train Operations Scheme of the Ministry of Railways.
  • As per existing rules, the approval from the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) of the Railways is required for running any non-standard rake.


  • RDSO is the sole R&D organisation of Indian Railways and functions as the technical advisor to Railway Board Zonal Railways and Production Units and performs the
    following important functions –
  1. Development of new and improved designs.
  2. Development,adoption, absorption of new technology for use on Indian Railways.
  3. Development of standards for materials and products specially needed by Indian Railways.
  4. Inspection of critical and safety items of rolling stock, locomotives, signalling and telecommunication
    equipment and track components.
Nov, 28, 2016

[pib] Adarsh Station Scheme of Indian Railways - Updates

  1. Development/modernization of stations is presently taken up under ‘Adarsh Station Scheme’.
  2. The expenditure on development of stations under ‘Adarsh’ Station Scheme is generally funded under Plan Head –‘Passenger Amenities’.
  3. ‘Adarsh’ stations will have facilities such as toilets, drinking water, catering services and waiting rooms
  4. Note: There are many Adarsh yojnas which aim to achieve an idealistic state of affairs wrt. some existing infrastructure – Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY), Adarsh Smarak Yojnas etc.
Nov, 28, 2016

[pib] Yatri Mitra Sewa at Railway Stations. What's that?

  1. Yatri Mitra Sewa is being provided at major railway stations for enabling passengers viz. differently-abled, ailing and old aged persons to book wheel chair services cum porter services.
  2. Responsibility of providing Yatri Mitra Sewa has been entrusted to Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)
  3. Note: Don’t need to mug up all these schemes but make a mnemonic to link them up in your head. Yatri Mitra Sewa might be confused with some friendly passenger scheme but its not!
Nov, 23, 2016

[op-ed snap] Overhauling Indian Railways

  1. Past trends: Reaction from someone high up in railway hierarchy immediately after the accident “those responsible will not be spared”
  2. Already concluded it was a “who” and not a “what” responsible for the accident
  3. 70% accidents are attributed to staff failures
  4. Accidents in any field are the result of the cumulative failures of procedures and systems over the past involving some “near misses”
  5. Loopholes: Bureaucratic organisational structure where information flow is strictly regulated along ‘departmental’ routes
  6. Need to enable free flow of information from lowest to highest levels about any deviations from accepted norms or practices so that corrective action can be initiated promptly
  7. Aim should be to correct, not punish
  8. There is very little discussion or analysis of the results of investments made in the past and whether any lessons have been learnt therefrom
  9. Accident enquiry reports are treated as confidential documents
  10. There is no reason why the summary of the findings of major accidents and the follow-up action taken cannot be put in the public domain, like US
Nov, 22, 2016

[op-ed snap] Restructuring the Indian Railways

  1. Indian railways need to be benchmarked to the Japanese railway system, Shinkansen, which, since 1964, has been carrying millions of passengers with zero fatality
  2. Problems of railways: Organisation is on the verge of bankruptcy. Very soon, Indian Railways may need to borrow money to pay salaries as it is likely to report a net loss of Rs. 25,000 crore
  3. Depreciation Reserve Fund (DRF) and Development Fund (DF) are getting depleted
  4. Railways, not generating enough operating cash surplus to even meet daily operating expenses
  5. To replace an old asset (tracks, rolling stock or signalling systems), you need to put money in the DRF
  6. Railways have lost their focus from operation with safety, to peripheral activities like catering, Wifi, bullet trains, etc.
  7. Freight loading is 15% lower than last year and 25% below target
  8. Passenger traffic is also down by millions
  9. The quality of maintenance isn’t being monitored, replacement of LHB coaches is very slowly — if Indore-Patna Express had LHB coaches, casualties would have been less
  10. Continuous track circuiting (CTC) is needed on all tracks to detect rail fractures. With CTC, derailment of Indore-Patna Express would not have occurred
Oct, 20, 2016

Coming soon: Smarter railway stations

  1. More than 500 railway stations in the country will ‘smarten up’ with better passenger amenities, easy access and integrated public transport hubs
  2. An MoU was signed between the Urban Development Ministry and the Railways
  3. The MoU will help redevelop railway stations and surrounding areas under the Smart City plan
  4. Initially 100 railway stations and an adjoining area of 300-800 acres would be redeveloped in the Smart Cities and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Cities plans
Sep, 28, 2016

[op-ed snap] Railways innovation

  1. Theme: An independent budget for the railways was a colonial legacy. Good that we have combined the two now. What next?
  2. The railways will now hopefully be able to get more money from the general government budget
  3. Moving the power to price railway tickets and freight rates to an independent regulator would also be a good idea
  4. It’s likely that we will now have a combined estimate of new investments on road and railway projects. So what?
  5. That’s important because now we will be looking at the concept of logistics in a holistic manner!
  6. Suggestion: Can we merge the road and railways ministry into a new transport ministry?
Sep, 27, 2016

PMO puts the brakes on rail tariff regulator plan- II

  1. It may be a major setback for the Railways on this front, as it was banking on creating the independent regulator this year
  2. Purpose: To perk up its worse-than-expected financial performance in the first half of this fiscal year
  3. The Railways’ estimated losses in passenger segment mounted from Rs.6,159 crore in 2004-05 to over Rs.30,000 crore in 2015-16
  4. Reason: Primarily due to sharp increase in input costs and no commensurate increase in fares over the same period

Discuss: The setting up of a Rail Tariff Authority to regulate fares will subject the cash strapped Indian Railways to demand subsidy for obligation to operate non-profitable routes and services. Taking into account the experience in the power sector, discuss if the proposed reform is expected to benefit the consumers, the Indian Railways or the private container operators. [Mains 2014]

Sep, 27, 2016

PMO puts the brakes on rail tariff regulator plan- I

  1. The PMO has asked the Ministry to follow the legislative route to create the regulator rather than push it through an executive order
  2. Background: The Ministry had proposed Rail Development Authority by an executive order & subsequently strengthen its powers through the legislative process
  3. Why? To bypass possible hurdles in Parliament
Sep, 16, 2016

Yatri Mitra to the aid of rail passengers in need of assistance

  1. What? The Ministry of Railways has announced the launch of Yatri Mitra Seva
  2. Why? To simplify access to wheelchairs, battery operated cars and porter services
  3. To improve the railway travel experience of elderly, differently-abled and ailing passengers
  4. Where? The scheme will be operational at all major railway stations
  5. When? It can be availed at the time of booking tickets online
  6. How? Accessing an app to be developed by the CRIS, calling or messaging 139 IVRS, or by dialling a dedicated mobile phone number
  7. Who? IRCTC Ltd. has been entrusted with implementing service
  8. IRCTC may provide the service free of cost through some NGO, charitable trust, PSUs, etc.
  9. However, if this service cannot be provided ‘free of cost’ due to lack of response, IRCTC may arrange this service on payment basis through a service provider or on its own
Sep, 14, 2016

Single budget will save Railways Rs. 10,000 crore

  1. Context: A joint committee set up to finalise the modalities for the merger of Rail Budget with the General Budget has submitted its report to the Finance Ministry
  2. Rec 1: Waiving off of payment of dividend by railways
  3. Benefit: Railways will save about Rs 10,000 crore annually as it will no longer have to pay dividend if the separate Rail Budget is scrapped
  4. Railways pays about Rs 10,000 crore as dividend a year after getting about Rs 40,000 crore
  5. Rec 2: However, the practice of getting gross budgetary support (GBS) from the exchequer will continue
  6. Rec 3: The General Budget to be presented by the Finance Minister will also have a separate annexure with details of plan and non-plan expenditures to be incurred by the Railways
Sep, 06, 2016

Railways of India Development Fund (RIDF)

  1. News: The railway ministry is in advanced stages of finalising a proposal to create this fund
  2. It will be a $5 billion fund to finance its various infrastructure projects & will be of seven years
  3. It is expected to be anchored by the World Bank
  4. Nearly 20% of the fund will come from the Finance Ministry and we expect the balance from pension funds and sovereign funds
Sep, 05, 2016

Railways draws up holding firm blueprint

  1. What? The railways ministry is planning to set up a holding company for all central public sector units (PSUs) under its charge
  2. Why? The idea behind such a move is to ensure that the holding firm retains proceeds from disinvestment in Railway PSUs and use them for development work
  3. The chairman of the Railway Board would serve as the chairman and managing director
  4. The only railway PSU that may not come under it is the Indian Railway Finance Corporation, since it is a financial company that raises funds
Sep, 05, 2016

Real time video monitoring of crowds at railway stations

  1. What? In a first, the Indian Railways has deployed ‘intelligent video analytics’
  2. Why? To assess crowd density at major railway stations and initiate crowd control measures when the number of passengers exceeds a prescribed limit
  3. How it works? The technology will be incorporated in the integrated security system will give an automatic alert to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel
  4. Then, they can set in motion certain Standard Operating Procedures that include a temporary ban on the issue of platform tickets and closure of parking lots till normalcy is restored
  5. Advantages: Timely alerts- to security agencies when large crowds build up in the station premises
    Help implement preventive protocols
  6. Visuals stored on CCTV system would be of immense help in identifying miscreants and in ensuring effective legal action
Aug, 18, 2016

Types of trains introduced

  1. Antyodaya Express: A long-distance, fully unreserved, super-fast train service, to be introduced for the common man, will operate on dense routes
  2. Deen Dayalu Coaches: To be added to some long-distance trains for unreserved travel to enhance the carrying capacity
  3. Humsafar: A fully third AC train
  4. Tejas: Will run at 130 km an hour with local cuisine, Wi-Fi and other amenities on board
  5. UDAY: (Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri) will be overnight trains plying on the busiest routes to increase capacity by 40%
Aug, 18, 2016

Suresh Prabhu announces four new trains

  1. News: Railway Ministry announced four new categories of trains, one for unreserved passengers and three for reserved ones, which will be operational in the next couple of months
  2. Why? The reason behind starting new train for unreserved passengers is to ensure that those belonging to the Antodya class (very poor people) can also travel by train
  3. It is in an attempt to enhance railway services across the country
Aug, 16, 2016

Indian Railways to run magnetic trains soon

  1. News: Trains that can travel 500 km an hour may soon become a reality in India, as the Indian Railways is mulling options to run trains on magnetic tracks
  2. Ministry of Railways has floated a tender to explore opportunities of maglev trains in India, which can hit 500 kmph
Aug, 15, 2016

Railway Budget to be merged with General Budget from 2017

  1. News: Finance Ministry accepted Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s proposal to merge Railway Budget with the General Budget ending the 92 year old practice
  2. Finance Ministry has constituted a committee to work out the modalities for the merger & the report is expected by August 31
  3. Impact: If the merger happens, Indian Railway will get rid of the annual dividend it has to pay for gross budgetary support from the Govt every year
  4. With the merger, the issue of raising passenger fares, an unpopular decision, will be the Finance Minister’s call

    Analysis: Genesis of this news starts from the recommendations given by Bibek Debroy. He was of the opinion to merge RB with UB for the simple reason that government ends up spending more money on RB as it is separate.

Aug, 08, 2016

Indian Railways to plug into National Power Grid

  1. News: Indian Railways (IR) is mulling options to buy power directly from the national grid
  2. For this, Railways’ arm Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) will tie up with Power Grid Corporation of India
  3. Dual benefit: Reliable power supply and reduced purchase cost
  4. Fact: IR is the biggest consumer of electricity, consuming about 18 billion units per year
  5. Cost: Currently, it sources power from states and through power plants, paying commercial rates which are usually high (Rs 6-7.5 per unit)
  6. Buying power from the grid would help the railways save at least Rs 3 per unit
    The spot market price has dipped below Rs 3 per unit
  7. Reliability: Power supply from states is dependent on intra-state grid capacity
  8. Power cuts and grid tripping hurt the supply to the Railways as it is not a part of any scheduled power supply
Jul, 08, 2016

Railways set to make revenue out of garbage

  1. News: Railways is finalising proposals to sell the garbage generated at stations across India
  2. Aim: To generate non-fare revenue from various sources
    The waste management company will collect the garbage from stations round-the-clock
  3. Risk insurance cover for workers involved in garbage collection will be the responsibility of the waste management company
Jun, 29, 2016

Recovery of rail freight stalled

  1. News: The recovery of over Rs 29,000 crore by the Railways from freight-evading iron ore exporters is struggling
  2. Issue: The key investigators who exposed the scandal in the South Eastern Railways have all dispersed from the task, the latest being the principal investigation officer
  3. Rail Budget: Railways abolished the dual freight policy in iron ore transportation, 8 years after it was implemented
  4. Background: A CAG audit report estimated during the global iron-ore boom during 2008-13, Railways lost over Rs 29,000 crore from the exporters
  5. The exporters transported iron ore meant for export on the same freight charges as that of domestic consumption movements
  6. The exporters were supposed to transport iron ore at a rate of 4-5 times than that of domestic consumption movements, under dual freight policy
Jun, 03, 2016

Railways to stop footing bill on passenger travel concessions

  1. Indian Railways provides more than 50 concessions as a part of social service obligation, incurring huge losses every year
  2. The concessions include those for senior citizens, differently-abled and patients
  3. Railway Ministry: The financial burden should be borne by the ministries concerned such as social justice for senior citizens, home affairs for freedom fighters and so on
  4. The Parliamentary Affairs Ministry already pays the full ticket fares for Members of Parliament travelling on railway concession passes
May, 13, 2016

New food packaging in trains soon

  1. Context: Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has got technological assistance by Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) for food processing
  2. Packaging: In retort pouch in the form of ready to eat & in special flexible polymeric film
  3. Advantage: More hygiene and acceptability than traditional canning system
  4. DFRL’s technology can also help IRCTC check wastage in its kitchens and save input expenditure
May, 13, 2016

Indian Railways sets up directorates

  1. Indian Railways established two new directorates as announced in Rail Budget 2016-17
  2. Under: Direct supervision of Railway Board Chairman
  3. Aim: To deal with mobility and non-fare revenue issues
  4. Focus: Enhancing the average speed of trains and boost non-fare revenues by 10 to 20%
  5. Mobility Directorate: Identifying train corridors where speed can be increased on a priority basis and monitoring capacity enhancement measures
  6. Non-fare Revenue Directorate: Generating non-fare revenues through advertising, monetising land along rail tracks and manufacturing
May, 12, 2016

Dual freight policy for iron ore goes

  1. Indian Railways has abolished its dual freight policy for carrying iron ore
  2. Aim: To boost freight traffic volumes
  3. It was a long-pending demand from industry players
  4. The freight rationalisation will help both Railways and the iron ore sector
Mar, 28, 2016

Railway catering towards ending licensing raj

  1. News: Govt-appointed panel led by Central Railway Chief Commercial Manager RD Sharma has recommended catering services to be given back to IRCTC from Indian Railways
  2. Why? To end licensing raj
  3. How? IRCTC is increasing its income earned by licensing out catering services to private players, its departmental losses have ballooned
  4. What are the Recommendations?
  • IRCTC to be prohibited from completely licensing out catering to private players and enhance revenue
  • IRCTC may outsource operations like support staff, service staff, cooks, transportaion, packaging etc. but its managers will be on board to
    supervise services
  • Present private licensees to be given out 2 options: Exit out contract without liability or accept new model of catering
Mar, 18, 2016

Railways ties with ISRO for route surveys

  1. Why? To leverage space technology for providing passenger information in all trains, map railway assets and help survey new route alignments
  2. Context: Railway Ministry requested ISRO to conduct a study to find ways to ensure smooth rail traffic during the foggy season
  3. At present, Indian Railways uses space technology
  4. To provide connectivity to passenger reservation counters, unreserved ticketing system in remote areas, and emergency communication using satellite phones during disaster
Mar, 18, 2016

Surat cleanest railway station; Varanasi among the dirtiest: survey

  1. Context: Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation survey on cleanliness status at major railway stations
  2. News: Surat is the cleanest railway station in the country, followed by Rajkot and Bilaspur
  3. The survey was conducted at 407 railway stations, which included 75 A-1 stations and 332 A-category stations
  4. Future: To make the entire rail network clean, including stations, tracks and other railway premises
Mar, 10, 2016

IT Enabled Applications For Transparency in Indian Railways

  1. Context: Railways have introduced several IT enabled applications to bring transparency on the sidelines of Digital India initiative.
  2. Computerised Passenger Reservation System: helps in computerised booking of reserved accommodation on trains in a transparent manner
  3. Computerised Unreserved Ticketing System: For issuing unreserved tickets across counters. Mobile application for unreserved ticketing has also been launched in suburban sections
  4. Computerised booking of Railway Retiring Rooms: Passengers can book retiring rooms online
Mar, 08, 2016

Financial reforms for railways

  1. Context: Rail ministry is on a drive to reform financially struggling railways through a range of initiatives
  2. Step: Importing crude oil and procuring refining capacity from oil marketing companies on lease
  3. Benefit: Cost optimisation & reduce diesel inventories by a third to a mere 5 days
  4. Other steps: Raise additional revenue by focusing on export of rolling stock, expanding the freight basket and monetising its vast data bank
Feb, 26, 2016

Railways to use drones to monitor projects

  1. News: Railway budget outlines various technology-led initiatives for the improvement of railways and passenger amenities
  2. The latest drone and geo-spatial-based satellite technology for remotely reviewing the physical progress across major projects
  3. Agencies: Proposal to set up a R&D organisation for developing strategic technology and bringing in holistic advancement
  4. Research Design and Standards Organisation: It will now focus only on day-to-day issues
  5. SRESTHA: Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology & Holistic Advancement would drive long-term research
Feb, 26, 2016

Better Rail connectivity to North East and J&K

  1. Context: Indian Railways have opened the long-awaited Broad Gauge Lumding-Silchar section in Assam, thus connecting Barak Valley with rest of the country.
  2. It also brought Agartala, the capital of Tripura on to the Broad Gauge network
  3. Connectivity with N-E states: Mizoram and Manipur are set to come on Broad Gauge map soon with commissioning of the Kathakal-Bhairabi and Arunachal-Jiribam Gauge Conversion projects
  4. Progress in J&K: Despite difficult terrain and uncertain geology, work on Katra-Banihal section of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project is progressing satisfactorily
  5. 35 Kilometers of tunneling, out of total of 95 Kilometers has been completed successfully
  6. Way ahead: Decongestion work on the Jalandhar- Jammu line, an important link to the valley, is going on in full swing
Feb, 26, 2016

Customer takes first class seat in Prabhu’s plans

  1. Context: Railway Minister Mr. Prabhu presented his second Rail Budget
  2. Announcements: India’s first rail auto hub to come up in Chennai
  3. Revamping internal audit system with view to bringing in efficiency in working practices
  4. All new Railway stations to be built as per Accessible India guidelines
  5. Long distance superfast train Antyodaya Express for unreserved passengers
  6. Cabinet decision: to allow JVs with States for rail projects opens new vistas for ownership in railway sector
  7. New freight corridors: Delhi-Chennai, Kharagpur-Mumbai, Kharagpur-Vijayawada
Feb, 24, 2016

Budget will be a tough task, Railway Board veterans say

  1. Context: Indian Railway is facing challenge on its financial targets
  2. Expert’s Opinion: The railways should prioritise ways to increase its freight revenue, as it is the major breadwinner of the utility
  3. Focus on the management of rail construction companies so that there are no project delays
  4. Proper research should be done before the railways take up new projects which later prove to be non-viable
  5. Steps such as improving freight business, increasing passenger fares, strengthening network in strategic business routes and forming strategic joint ventures with stakeholders should be taken
Feb, 19, 2016

Bullet Trains can wait, says Sreedharan

  1. Context: E Sreedharan’s comment on Indian railway’s plan to start bullet trains in the country
  2. Reason: India needs huge infusion of funds to improve and upgrade the present railway infrastructure
  3. Focus: Priority should be given to increasing the speed, increasing the line capacity, giving more facilities and ensuring the safety of trains
  4. Sreedharan strongly advocated state running the railways, as against allowing private companies to operate railway
Feb, 17, 2016

Railways to build 3 projects through build-operate-transfer model

  1. Context: As railways is  facing a resource crunch, it is focusing on raising funds through various channels, including the PPP route and forming joint ventures with the state govts.
  2. Background: The Railways has received Rs 14,000 crore worth investment commitments since 2014 after it introduced new models for projects through PPP model
  3. News: The Indian Railways has identified the first 3 projects to be taken up for development through the new build, operate, transfer (BOT) annuity model
Feb, 16, 2016

MoU signed between India and Sweden on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector

  1. Context: Union Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation of Sweden have inked a MoU on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector
  2. Objective: To promote efficiency and sustainability and to achieve concrete results with regard to bilateral trade, research, investment and technology transfer
  3. Key features: Benchmark Railways policy development, organization, regulations and specific characteristics for each country
  4. Exchange of knowledge, innovation, technology, technical expertise, sustainable solutions and research
  5. Training and continuing of education program in maintenance of Rail transport system for Railway engineers and managers
Feb, 11, 2016

Indian Railways to hike passenger fares

  1. The railways ministry is said to be mulling an increase of up to 10 % in passenger fares
  2. It is facing a severe financial crunch
  3. If approved, the increased rates will fetch IR an additional Rs 5,000 crore
  4. This will partially offset the impact of the Pay Commission recommendations and the cut in the Centre’s financial assistance or Gross Budgetary Support (GBS)
  5. The ministry seeking to maximise gains from the increased volumes in the peak season beginning March
Feb, 10, 2016

Ministry signs MoU with Chhattisgarh government for railway development

  1. Context: The Union proposal for formation of JV companies between Indian Railways and state govts
  2. Recent Developments: Indian Railways signed a MoU with Chhattisgarh Government to establish a joint venture
  3. Importance: Chattisgarh needs expansion of rail network to transport its natural resources
  4. Purpose of JV: For laying tracks and expedite implementation of railway projects in the state
  5. Focus areas of JV: Project development and implementation, resource mobilisation, land acquisition and monitor the progress of critical rail projects in the state
Feb, 05, 2016

Joint Ventures with states for rail projects

The Union cabinet has approved a proposal for formation of JV companies between Indian Railways and state governments

  1. This aims to mobilize resources for executing rail infrastructure projects in multiple states
  2. The JV exercise would ensure greater participation of states in implementation of railway projects both in terms of financial participation as well as decision-making process
  3. The move will also facilitate faster approvals including land acquisition
  4. The JV companies would be formed with equity participation of the rail ministry and the state governments
  5. Each such JV would have an initial paid-up capital of Rs 100 crore, including the rail ministry’s paid up capital of upto Rs 50 crore
Jan, 22, 2016

400 railway stations to get airport-like facilities

  1. Rail passengers may soon get to see airport-like facilities at 400 stations across the country.
  2. The stations will have separate arrival and departure terminals, easy connectivity with local transportation.
  3. The government plans to adopt the Swiss Challenge mode to invite bids for redeveloping the stations.
  4. The railway stations will be built on ‘design, build, finance, operate and transfer’ model and the developer will meet the entire cost.
Jan, 12, 2016

Government forms high-level panel on Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project

  1. The Union government constituted a 5-member high-level committee chaired by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya.
  2. To monitor the Rs 90,000 crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.
  3. Members will look into the overall operations and technical issues of the project.
  4. Its strategic importance for bilateral relation, financial outlay and the ‘Make in India’ component respectively.
  5. Further, a separate committee under Mr. Das has been formed for inter-departmental co-ordination and resolving all issues related to project implementation.
Jan, 12, 2016

Government launches web-based rail track management

In a major step towards digitization, the Indian Railways launched a web-based system to monitor track maintenance on a real-time basis by replacing more than a lakh registers related to it.

  1. The web-based management of track maintenance will be implemented in all the 68 divisions of the Indian Railways.
  2. Various activities such as track inspection, monitoring and maintenance will now be done on the e-platform.
  3. Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu termed the system as “cost and time saving”, adding that “it has saved about Rs 1,100 crore in a zone.
  4. The system will give alerts through SMS and e-mails to the concerned officials in the Railways.
Jan, 05, 2016

Rail regulator to set fares, ensure fair competition

  1. The Union govt has proposed to set up a rail regulator for fixing fares and ensuring level-playing field for private investments in railway infrastructure.
  2. The Rail Development Authority would be an independent body, housed outside the Ministry of Railways.
  3. The Railways Ministry is planning to set it up through an executive order and later on widen its powers.
  4. It will be authorised to penalise cartelisation, abuse of dominance and other unfair market mechanisms.
  5. An appellate body is also proposed to be formed and the role, structure and composition of the body will be similar to other regulators.
Nov, 25, 2015

Rail upgrade to boost economic growth by 3%

The capex plans included Rs 82,000 crore for a Dedicated Freight Corridor project.

  1. The ongoing modernisation of railways may boost the country’s GDP by about 3 per cent over a period of time.
  2. About 103 announcements made in the FY16 railway budget have been implemented with several stations showing marked improvement in cleanliness.
  3. The ministry is also planning to redevelop 400 stations through open bids called the Swiss Challenge method, a form of public procurement.
Nov, 07, 2015

4th Meeting of “Kayakalp” held in New Delhi

The 4th Meeting held under the Chairmanship of Ratan Tata, Kayakalp (Innovation Council of Indian Railways).

  1. Discuss the safety issues and attempted to identify the causes for accidents on account of manual failures.
  2. The Council looked at approaches towards achieving greater hygiene and cleanliness on railway facilities such as stations.
  3. Council examined the customer focus of Indian Railways at present and ways to make the organization more customer friendly.
  4. All Members agreed on Railways’ need to address customer needs in a more visible and effective manner.
Oct, 23, 2015

Japan offers India soft loan for $15 bn bullet train virtually free

Tokyo’s push in India comes just weeks after it lost out to China on the contract to build Indonesia’s first fast-train link.

  1. Japan has offered to finance India’s first bullet train, estimated to cost $15 billion, at an interest rate of less than 1 percent.
  2. Tokyo was picked to assess the feasibility of building the 505-kilometre corridor linking Mumbai with Ahmedabad.
  3. Japan’s decision to give virtually free finance for Modi’s pet programme is part of its broader push back against China’s involvement in infrastructure development in South Asia.
  4. The two projects are part of a ‘Diamond Quadrilateral’ of high speed trains over 10,000 km of track that India wants to set up connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

Diamond Quadrilateral is a project of the Indian railways to establish high speed rail network in India. This quadrilateral will connect the four metro cities in India, i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. 

Oct, 17, 2015

Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme – “VIKALP”

It allows wait-listed passengers of a train to opt for confirmed accommodation in alternate trains.

  1. The Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme (ATAS), aka VIKALP, will be implemented on Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Jammu routes for tickets booked online.
  2. It provides confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers and ensure optimal utilisation of available accommodation.
  3. As per the scheme, boarding and terminating station might change to nearby cluster stations.
Sep, 20, 2015

Indian Railways develops hybrid vacuum toilets

  1. Development Cell of the Railway Board has come up with a design that combines the advantages of vacuum toilets and bio-toilets to create a new design of a hybrid vacuum toilet.
  2. The concept of a hybrid vacuum toilet is a first ever system of its kind to have been developed and built by any railway system in the world.
  3. The prototype consists of a custom designed Vacuum toilet adapted from a commercially available vacuum toilet that is used in aircrafts which evacuates its discharge into a bio-digester tank which is now successfully proven in the bio-toilets of Indian Railways.

Remember this year’s prelim question on bio digesters!

Jul, 17, 2015

Cabinet nod to redevelop 400 major railway stations

  1. The Cabinet approved the redevelopment of 400 major railway stations, under a new method called the “Swiss Challenge”.
  2. A1 and A category stations, generally in metros, pilgrimage and major tourist centres and major cities, would be redeveloped under the method.
  3. The Railways classify the 7000 stations into seven categories based on earnings.


Jun, 29, 2015

Unions reject key proposals of Debroy panel

5 Railway Federation/Associations, representing 13 lakh employees have put up a collective show – “NO”. What do they say?

“We are pained to find that Committee’s main concern seems to be the growth and profit of private players, even if it is at the cost of interests of Indian Railways and nation.

It is also distressing to note that Committee has displayed lack of faith in Railway Board, which is reflected in Committee’s insistence on keeping the ‘Ministry of Railways’ away from implementation decisions.”

Jun, 17, 2015

[cd explains] Debroy committee bats for radical reforms


Jun, 16, 2015

[op-ed snap] Finding a blueprint for railway reforms & implementing it

  1. The new report by Bibek Debroy talks about a railway regulatory authority – a prerequisite for the restructuring of the railways – allowing more open participation of private players.
  2. Key Fact – 94% of railways’ revenues are spent on operating costs.
  3. Suresh Prabhu, the Railway minister is attempting to set its finances right.
  4. The minister is now engaging more with state governments to get them on board for investments in new projects.
  5. Charting out a plan to run the railways on more commercial lines, dismantling of the present organisational structure marked by a powerful railway board.
Jun, 15, 2015

Key Points: Restructuring the Indian Railways

  1. The panel on restructuring of the Indian Railways, headed by Mr. Debroy, submitted its final report on Friday.
  2. Improving accountability, decentralising power and setting up an independent regulator are the key recommendations.
  3. Even if the projects are taken up for fulfilling social objectives, they need to be accounted for and clearly quantified and funded out of the Budget.
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