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Indian Railways
Recent extraordinary spectacles of students from prestigious management schools of USA lining up to listen to the self-proclaimed 'management guru', Lalu may be recalled. I learn from reliable sources that the cost of these trips from USA were fully funded by the Indian Railways.

The management school worthies were not able to see through the game Lalu played with Railway accounts.

He did NOT achieve a miracle turn-around of the Railways from a loss-making to a profit-making enterprise, within one year of his assuming charge as Railway Minister.

What happened was simply this. An accounting gimmick to exclude from the Railway the 'contribution to the General Revenues (i.e., Consolidated Fund of India)' mandated under the Railways Act of 1868, after the Railways accounts were separated from the General budget (so as not to cause ebbs and tides in the central exchequer with heavy outflows needed for capital investments and depreciation provisions).

I want to make two points.

Point 1: accounting gimmick

Railway's capital requirements are treated as loan taken from the Central exchequer (also called General Revenues). So, the Indian Railways are obligated to repay the loan and also to pay interest on the borrowed funds. Unfortunately, this does not happen. Only 'contribution to General Revenues' is made every year at an arbitrary rate fixed by a non-descript group of bureaucrats who write the periodical reports called 'Reports of Railway Convention Committee'. Simply put, the Railway enterprise does not have the capacity to generate enough funds to meet its capital investment needs or even make provision for depreciation of its assets. It is simply a leech on the Central Exchequer. By an accounting gimmick, these contributions were excluded from the computation of 'profit/loss' in its Balance Sheet; voila, suddenly, the Indian Railways was shown as a profit-making public sector enterprise.

Point 2: 'rationalisation of Railway freight charges'

If at all, the turn around in increased Railway revenues occurred -- over 4 to 5 years -- because of the initiatives of the earlier Railway Minister, a professional, Shri Nitish Kumar who is now CM of Bihar state. He introduced a 'rationalised' freight structure which simply meant that the freight rates were increased drastically and many PSU's of the steel and coal and other bulk-goods freight generators were asked to pay more for the freight carried on Indian Railways.  This was simply a book transfer from one PSU (such as Coal India or Steel Authority of India and its subsidiaries) to another Govt. Dept., in this case, the Indian Railways. This is the move which resulted in increased 'revenues' for the Indian Railways during Lalu regime.

See the article by Smt. Vijayalakshmi V, former FC of the Indian Railways: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/0...52400570900.htm

See VA Padmanabham, IRAS article at: http://www.irastimes.org/Towards_better_pr...ay_accounts.htm

See Code for the Accounts department of Indian Railways at: http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/financeco...de1/preface.htm

If capital expenditures are met from borrowings from the financial market and if such borrowings are serviced through current interest rate payments and principal repayments, Indian Railways will be seen as a white elephant by any commercial standards of book-keeping and financial accounting.

One can fool some for some time as has happened with the management school worthies from USA wharton school etc. But it is time to prick the bubble, to change the metaphor, call a spade a spade, call Lalu a magician juggling with numbers (aha, money that he does not own as a shareholder).

If the maintenance of Railway Accounts are outsourced to, say, the Chartered Accountants Institute of India, the balance sheet will show a dismal picture of an inefficient system with too many cooks spoiling the broth. Sure, as a social enterprise, it does provide employment for over 1.7 million workers (excluding contractors' staff), but if such a large number of people are needed is quite another story for enquiry by real management gurus.

The latest gimmick is reservation 3 months' in advance (against the present practice of 1 month in advance). Railways will earn interest on these deposits. This means simply interest-free revenues from aam admi to satisfy Lalu's ego.


March 09, 2008

Lalu fudges figures for Railways' shine

There is also an attempt at concealment of figures. After presentation of the 2007-08 budget, without approval of Parliament, ticket cancellation and return ticket booking charges were unilaterally increased three-fold.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav says that he has done an "indrajal"— magic with the Railway Budget and shown a "profit" of Rs 25,000 crore even after giving slew of "concessions". Unfortunately enough the media was carried away largely by his rhetoric without caring to go into the reality. That means Lalu has given no concession neither has he made any cut in fares of freight at any level. Sadly the media—except for one or two TV channels and newspapers— gulped whatever the "magician" tried to force on them.

Lalu announced Rs 21,578 crore as surplus in his 2007-08 budget. The reality is "the excess for 2006-07 amounts to less than half at Rs 10,206 crore" as given in the detailed Explanatory Memorandum of the budget. Accordingly, there was Rs 416 crore reduced net revenue last year. The budget speech is silent on this non-performance.

This calls for serious introspection. It is unlikely that Railways would have a surplus of Rs 25,000 crore in 2008-09 either. It may even be less than the actual figures of 2007-08.

As one listens live reading the budget on television, his "nautanki" mesmerizes. What has Lalu given to the passengers? Precious little. Even four per cent cut in fares on sleeper class fare and eight per cent in AC-3 tier and chair car announced in the last year's—2007-08—budget has not been passed on to the passengers. There was a clause that it would be effected after the introduction of new LHB coaches. Since not many sleeper coaches—with 81 berths, AC-3 tier coaches with 72 berths and chair car with 102 seats—were added, Chairman Railway Board K.C. Jena announced, soon after presentation of the new budget, the benefit could not be given. (The new coaches also compromise on passenger comfort, as berths are narrower and shorter with less legroom and luggage space. Apart from this, the eight seats that are added to the side berths have created ventilation problem. Chair car seats are also narrower).

Lalu's this year's announcement of 7 per cent cut on AC-I, 4 per cent on AC-2 tier fare are unlikely to benefit the people. The rider, Lalu says, is: "This reduction will be only 50 per cent for popular trains and during peak period".

What is the lean season? The Chairman says it means the period between February 1 and March 31 and August 1 and August 31. The rest—nine months—is peak season. So Lalu earns the kudos without having to give anything. What is a popular train? Chairman says it is being worked out but indicated that majority of the trains are in that category.

The jugglery in figures become acute as one reads through the figures. His surpluses include Rs 1250 crore on account of anticipated 6th Pay Commission recommendations—Rs 750 crore in ordinary working expenses and Rs 50 crore in pension fund. It also includes a deferred dividend liability of Rs 664 crore.

But he conceals that his liability on provident fund, retirement benefits and pension have gone up by Rs 500 crore—from Rs 9,706 crore in budget estimates to Rs 1482 crore. It has increased by Rs 428 crore on staff amenities. There has been Rs 598 crore increase in maintenance of plant equipment cost, Rs 657 crore on rolling stock and equipment. On several other heads too similar increases have been indicated. This only reveals that claims in the Railway Budget speech are different from the reality.

There is also an attempt at concealment of figures. After presentation of the 2007-08 budget, without approval of Parliament, ticket cancellation and return ticket booking charges were unilaterally increased three-fold. Tatkal tickets, which were only ten per cent of the total seats, were increased to 30 per cent. The Railway Budget does not reveal the additional earning on this count. When asked for details the Chairman said he did not have figures with him and it had to be worked out.

The budget also does not take into account how much more passengers are shelling out on declaration of 200 trains as superfast.

The Railway Minister appeared very generous in announcing 6 per cent cut in freight rates for goods headed to North-East. But he concealed that one travelling to North-East from Guwahati has to shell out more. Earlier, one could buy a single ticket if one had to change trains for an onward destination. Now, for example, a person travelling from Mumbai to Guwahati could earlier buy a Mumbai-Howrah-Guwahati ticket for Rs 557. Now, he has to buy a Mumbai-Howrah ticket for Rs 517 and another ticket for Howrah-Guwahati for Rs 369. It is estimated that Railways are earning Rs 100 crore at least on this count.

Tatkal surcharge was Rs 100 per ticket. It has increased to Rs 250 per ticket. And all this has been done without any sanction of Parliament.

How did he manage to show the surplus last year (in many cases he has done a repeat this year) ? He had shown Rs 9,000 crore pension funds as cash surplus, included Rs 2500 crore miscellaneous funds as earnings, Rs 1700 crore due to the Indian Railway Finance Commission shown in the profit account, profits were shown to be shored up by showing advance earnings from the coming years budget, hidden costs to passenger tickets earned the Railways

Rs 300 crore and higher tonnage carried by the Railways ignoring safety concerns earned it Rs 5000 crore. (Though it has added to the maintenance costs and rail fractures have gone up).

Lalu Yadav does not add the additional costs on many counts particularly the safety aspects. In his speech, he admits that the number of accidents at unmanned level crossing in 2006-07 (final figures) has increased by 13 per cent as compared to 15 per cent in 2001-02—a year Lalu derides as a period of dire straits "before the UPA government". Almost 35 per cent of the total accidents were at level crossings in 2006-07—of a total of 195 accidents 72 were at level crossings.

Higher freight tonnage has led to serious track conditions. Various zonal Railways, including East Coast Railway, Southeastern Railway, Southern Railway and South Central Railway reported higher rail and welding fractures, failure of electric locos, brake beam defects and increased en route detachment due to wagon body bulging, stalling and wheel burns. It has also increased vulnerability of large number of bridges.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has also noted serious concern on this count. It noted in its 2006 report: "Wagons were overloaded even beyond the axle load tolerance. This was likely to have an adverse impact on track bridges and rolling stock. The railways permitted enhanced loading of wagons without monitoring the impact of enhanced loading."

The budget does not indicate any step being taken to rectify it—nor does it indicate how much extra it has cost the Railways in repairs on these counts. CAG has also pointed to yet another factor—speed restrictions owing to prolonged continuance of repair works. CAG says it has led to loss of productivity and added several other costs.

So there is no "indrajal"—magic—in Lalu's budget. It tries to create an illusion and conceal from the people and its supreme body—Parliament—the reality. The Railways are not in the ship-shape, the minister has tried to picture.


[center]<b><span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>INDIAN RAILWAYS YEAR BOOK 2006-2007</span></b>[/center]

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->

[center] <!--emo&:clapping--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/clap.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='clap.gif' /><!--endemo--><b><span style='color:red'>30 Minutes : Train to Kashmir, a century in the making</span></b> <!--emo&:clapping--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/clap.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='clap.gif' /><!--endemo-->[/center]

<i>It's a project that's been a century in the making - a train from Udhampur in Jammu to Baramulla in Kashmir, through mountains and across valleys, for close to 300 kilometres. It is a train whose makers hope it will reduce conflict, create jobs, and finally connect Kashmir to the rest of India. In the next 30 minutes, CNN-IBN will you take you on a journey cutting across the Pir Panjal range right into the heart of the Valley. A journey of difficult terrains, chronic deadlocks and of a dream trying to triumph it all. It is a journey on the Train to Kashmir. Read on... </i>

<b>Reasi District :</b> Sudhir Singh Slathia has his work cut out. The stretch from Katra to Qazigund is the most difficult section of the Kashmir rail link and as construction engineer, Slathia has one of the most challenging jobs. He has to bore Rail Tunnel Number 5 through part of the mighty Pir Panjal range.

The darkness there hides many perils like fragile soil, seeping waters and an unpredictable mountain.

The strata is loose. The water seepage strata is young and we have a lot of difficulty. There are also more challenges like all the workers getting wet. We can't drill through properly," says Slathia.

Three-quarters of the line from Katra to Qazigund will pass through tunnels. The Kashmir rail link has been under construction since 1994, but work started in earnest only in 2001, when it was declared a National Priority Project, to be funded by the Centre.

<b>Geological Problems</b>

When architects like Executive Director Konkan Railways, Vinod Kumar arrived in 2004, they faced hostile mountains, and inaccessible tunnel sites. That's when they realised that before there could be a track, there had to be a road.

Kumar says, "It's a difficult task but not impossible. It is a fight against nature, but were ready to do this. It ust needs some time."

Two-hundred-and-ninety-six kilometres of link roads are to be laid for the railway line. Before a road can be built, special road construction machines, each weighing over 10 tons, have to be pulled up steep dirt tracks to the point where the road ends. And when those points are completely inaccessible, the machines are even airdropped.

"The road has been constructed in an unconvential way by building machines, through a nallah (gutter), taking up through temporary paths and then starting the face of the roads from two more sides. This has been done in order to save time," says Kumar.

And as if building road tunnels isn't difficult enuough, the planners have to deal with events that are completely unplanned – like landslides.

Vinod Kumar says, "There are a lot of landslides. There was an accident during the 2005 earthquake. A worker died and it took us eight hours to dig out his body. But then, a road has to be built. We have to take calculated risks."

The Pir Panjals are relatively young mountains with a weak geological structure, prone to large tectonic movements. Some tunnels have collapsed, while others were abandoned after their dangers became clear.

Jammu University's Professor G M Bhatt says, "The area is highly earthquake prone. It is quake zone V and the rock structure is all dolomite and limestone which is fractured and is the main cause of landslides and tunnel collapses."

Despite all the precautions, working 700 metres below the ground is still extremely dangerous. There are instances when labourers have almost severed body parts because of the dangerous excavating machines they work with.

Whenever such an incident takes place, panic reigns at the work site, which slowly gives way to an uneasy calm. Blood stains and a fading cry are reminders of the dangers that lie ahead.

Slathia concedes that risk is a part of the job, but the work must go on.

<b>Setting A Tall Standard</b>

There are accidents, but there are milestones too. The Kashmir rail link will have 855 bridges and 74 tunnels, including the 10.96 kilometre long T-80 or Pir Panjal Tunnel, India's longest rail tunnel. The link will also have a bridge like no other.

The Indian Railways is trying to set a tall standard by constructing the world's highest bridge, 359 meters high over River Chenab. Constructing something like this is no less than a marvel.

Konkan Railways' Deputy Chief Engineer, Ishwar Chand says, "The bridge is about six times the height of the Qutab Minar."

The bridge will cost over Rs 550 crore to build and will need over 25,000 tons of fabricated steel. And since that's too much to transport all the way here, the engineers are making the fabricated steel on location.

Chand says, "We have set up steel fabrication units at the site of the construction itself."

He adds that the main part is the erection of the arch which is to be built in an ingenious new way, using cable cranes and ropeways.

"The cable crane and the ropeway will have a capacity of 40 metric tonnes and then that segment can be connected to all segments. That is how the arch is going to be built," says Chand.

Over 1,000 skilled labourers will have to work on the bridge before it's finished. For men like Nazakat Ali, from the Khour village nearby, the railway line is a bridge to a better life.

He says that he used to be a shepherd earlier but now he is employed and that is the way to a better life.

The cost of the rail project has risen from Rs 1,127 crore to over Rs 4,300 crore. And with further delays likely, costs are estimated to touch Rs 15,000 crore. For the men who are working at making the rail link, Rs 15,000 crore is but a small price to pay for making history.

<b><span style='font-size:12pt;line-height:100%'>VIDEO ONE</span></b>

<b><span style='font-size:12pt;line-height:100%'>VIDEO TWO</span></b>

<b><span style='font-size:12pt;line-height:100%'>VIDEO THREE</span></b>

<b><span style='font-size:11pt;line-height:100%'>VIDEO FOUR</span></b>

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<b>Japan offers India record loan for railway</b>

<b>TOKYO : Japan on Wednesday offered a record $4.5 billion in loans to India to build a major railway as the Asian powers agreed to step up both economic and military ties.</b>

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso hastened to deny that the cooperation was aimed at countering China, where both leaders head on Thursday for a summit of Asian and European leaders. Under the agreement signed in Tokyo, Japan will provide an initial 450 billion yen ($4.5 billion) in low-interest loans to build the freight railway between New Delhi and Mumbai.

The 1,468-kilometre (912-mile) railway between India’s two largest cities will also include economic sectors around the tracks. It is aimed at improving a creaky infrastructure seen as a key bottleneck holding back India’s economy.

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Rail Success story a sham-CAG

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Rly success story a sham: CAG

J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi

‘It window-dressed revenues, hiked freight tariff on sly’

<b>The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has blown the lid off the Indian Railways’ fiscal turnaround story by exposing how it window-dressed revenues and enhanced freight tariff on the sly.</b>

In its report, which was recently submitted to Parliament, <b>CAG criticised the Railway Ministry for increasing freight charges months after presenting a Budget that boasted no hike. It also pulled up the Ministry for adding Tatkal and ticket cancellation collections to the total passenger revenue, saying these should have been listed separately.</b>

Though Union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav has walked away with credit for a turnaround in the Railways' fiscal health without burdening either industry or the common man, the CAG report presents a different picture.

On the ‘impressive’ increase in passenger earnings, the report observed, “An analysis of the reasons for increases in passenger earnings revealed that besides an increase of about 9 per cent in the number of passengers, the introduction of enhanced reservation fee for ticket-booking stations contributed approximately Rs 91.01 crore.”

“Other reasons for the increase in passenger earnings included realisation of Tatkal reservation charges, amounting to Rs 210.95 crore, and increasing the period of advance reservations from two months to three months, amounting to Rs 292.93 crore,” CAG observed.

Incidentally, the Tatkal and ticket cancellation charges were substantially increased in December 2005. While at the time of its introduction, the Tatkal charges were Rs 50, they have now gone up to Rs 150 for non-AC sleepers and Rs 300 for all air-conditioned coaches. Yet another reason for the increased revenue was the enhancement in cancellation charges, of which the Railways did not provide figures to the auditor.

<b>Besides passenger revenue, the Ministry enhanced freight tariff through the back door within six months of taking the credit in the Budget speech for not increasing the charges.</b>

The report stated, "Though, while presenting the Railway Budget for 2006-07, the Railway Minister had not proposed any increase in the freight rates, it was noticed in the audit that besides making upward revision in the classes of food grains and fertiliser, the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) had increased the freight of all commodities with effect from July 1, 2006."

Giving details of increased revenue, the report said such significant increases ranged from 1.6 per cent to 3.6 per cent. "Increasing the freight charges of all commodities, the total increase in freight on this account was Rs.1193.60 crore," it observed.

The CAG report also pulled up the Ministry for its "unscientific" approach to appropriation of the Depreciation Reserve Funds. "Appropriation to DRF to meet the replacement cost of the existing assets was not made in a scientific manner, taking into account the historical cost, expected useful life and the expected residual value of the depreciated asset," the report stated. The audit also observed that Railways had failed to take into account the need for timely replacement of "over-aged assets".

The Pioneer had earlier reported that the Railways had piled up a loss of Rs 801.67 crore in just nine months due to wrong price fixation in container traffic. The report blamed the Railway Board for fixing less haulage charges for commodities from Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), a public sector undertaking of the Railways. "The fixation of haulage rates less than the base class at break-even rates has resulted in the loss of Rs 801.67 crore during the nine-month period alone," CAG stated.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Jogindernagar -Manali- Leh rail line in HP</b>

Dharamsala: Centre is keen to take up the Jogindernagar -Manali- Leh rail line in Himachal Pradesh as a strategic project from the national security point of view and a high level team along with the engineers of Austria are present in the State to conduct a survey.

Very important, if they can do it. Not a easy task.

An old Article but highlights the grief that the Land of the Pure suffers from their Highel and Tallel than the Himalayas Deepel than the Pacific and Lalgel than the Univelse Fliends’ Fliendship :

<b>NA body opposes Chinese locomotives purchase</b>

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 : Mayed Ali and Moayyed Jafri

LAHORE : The National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) on Railways has directed the Ministry of Railways not to procure Chinese locomotives, worth Rs 12.7 billion, till the Ministry of Law and Justice assesses the controversial deal.

The committee found irregularities and violations in the bidding and tendering of Rs 12.7 billion procurement of Chinese locomotives and referred them to the Ministry of Law and Justice on April 23. The Railways Ministry went ahead with the deal despite the fact that former chairman Pakistan Railways Ejaz Ahmad advised the institution not to ‘standardise’ the locomotives until their performance had been evaluated for at least a decade. The Railways signed the agreement with the Chinese authorities on December 31, 2008.

During a meeting, NASC Chairman Sardar Ayaz Sadiq issued clear-cut directives to the PR chairman for proceeding under the Removal from Service Ordinance (RSO) against the officers who were involved in the violation of (Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules, Tender/ Technical deviations within 30 days. These officers have been found guilty of forging documents, committing fraud to mislead the ministry and changing specifications laid out by Ecnec. The NASC chairman clearly advised that “no further progress on this contract be made until the opinion of the Ministry of Law and Justice is received and discussed with the NASC.”
The PR in its January 2005 performance report had declared 69 Chinese locomotives acquired in September 2003 as technically misfit and substandard. A total of 334 total failures in the Chinese locomotives were reported in a short span of 16 months from September 2003 to January 2005, the report stated. These defects included severe failures of assemblies and above all, the defect of main frame cracking was detected in these locomotives.</b> The Chinese locomotives require inherent modifications to function in the PR infrastructure as it does not comply with the technical requirements, including axle loads and required turbo chargers. However, the PR has reported that even after the modification, majority of these locomotives continue to malfunction. Experts have termed these discrepancies a major contributor to the derailment of railway bogies and said these locomotives were accident-prone. <b>It was also reported that maintenance cost of the Chinese locomotives was already too high and would rise even further after the warranty period expires.</b>

The American engines previously used by the PR have twice the life of the Chinese locomotives although they cost almost twice as much. But over the service period of the Chinese locomotives, almost a significant half has stayed dysfunctional at the workshops for one reason or the other and only half the strength has effectively been in service, causing severe distortion of the PR operations. The firms competing for the tender included the Marubeni Corporation (Japan), General Electrics (USA) and DEC (China). A renowned international firm, General Motors, refused to take part in the bidding, clearly objecting to the tendering process adopted by the Railways Ministry. This allegation stands justified as the Railways Ministry mentioned in the tender notice that it reserves the right to reject any or all the tenders without assigning any reason and the decision of the ministry shall not be challenged on any grounds whatsoever by the bidders.

The tender released by the Railways Ministry violated Rule 33 and 48(5) of the PPR, which states that any bidder dissatisfied with the decision of the procuring agency may lodge an appeal with the relevant court. During the course of standing committee meeting, the railways authorities confessed these omissions by the procuring agency. The tender was to be finalised within 240 days, as stipulated in the PPRA rules. Nevertheless, the Railways Ministry officials finalised it after 320 days. Moreover, the tendering was done against the recommendations and criteria specified by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec). Under the Public Procurement Rules (PPR), 2004, these violations and breach can lead to mis-procurement and those responsible shall be held accountable under the law. The PC (I) for the procurement of 75 locomotives included technical specifications recommended by Ecnec, chaired by the prime minister, and no one has the authority to change the Ecnec decision, including axle load values not feasible for the infrastructure. The tender documents prepared by the PR had altered the specifications, which were a major violation, as seen by the standing committee.

The locomotives offered by the Chinese bidder did not meet the technical specifications of the desired A-I-A bogies. Instead, they were altered and fabricated to meet the desired criteria, which allowed the acceptance of Co-Co bogies, violating the PPR 36(b), which forbids any change in technical proposal. All these technical discrepancies in the Chinese locomotives offer have made them a technically non-responsive bidder and according to the PPR, the financial envelope of such a bidder is not opened.

However, in clear violation of the PPR 36(b)(viii), the financial proposal was considered and qualified despite that the technical evaluation declared the Chinese offer as unsuitable for 3,000 HP locomotives.

In another finding of the NASC, the tender notice did not mention any benchmark of experience for the desired firms, creating ambiguity while evaluating different bidders. The Chinese company failed to provide the desired authenticated performance certificates to prove financial capability, past performance, delivery period availability of the spare parts and maintenance/service facilities. The company does not even qualify the basic criterion, which demands export of at least 150 locomotives of each type. In another effort to favour the Chinese bidder, the PR in the NASC meeting on February 9, 2009, mentioned that the certificates of reputation and end-user authentication were not available. <b>The copies of such certificates were later presented by the PR to the NASC, which were declared as tampered. These certificates from Nigeria and Iraq are in Chinese manuscript, which cannot be the case, as the languages of these countries are different. These certificates were found to be provided by an agent of the Chinese company in these countries and, thus, do not hold any ground.</b>

These decisions was taken at the meeting of the NASC on April 23, 2009, which assessed the findings of the Review Committee, formed to ensure that none of the tenders or technical conditions were violated and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and guidelines were adopted properly on the procurement of 75 locomotives from China. This review committee was formed in a meeting of the NASC on March 27, 2009, headed by PPRA MD Sarfraz Ahmed Syed, Maintenance & Service General Manager Asad Saeed, W&T GM Farooq Aziz, a representative for the Ministry of Finance and two members of the standing committee, after huge deviations in the contract were reported along with several defects in the procured Chinese locomotives like cracks in the main frame, being overweight, and unfeasible life-cycle costs.

Ex-PR chairman Ejaz Ahmed termed it interference in the executive matters of the ministry. Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said the NASC might forward its recommendations to the minister to be careful in future rather than opening the Pandora’s box. The NASC chairman said it was the prime responsibility of the committee to point out irregularities and float its recommendations for the betterment of the ministry. Commenting on the findings and recommendations of the NASC, Bilour said he did not oppose them.

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Just stumbled on this “Golden Oldie” :

<b>Minister advises passengers to recite Durood Sharif in trains</b>

Updated at : 1725 PST, Monday, May 04, 2009

[center]<img src='http://thenews.com.pk/updates_pics/5-4-2009_76674_l.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />[/center]

HYDERABAD : Minister of State for Railways Muhammad Jadam Mangrio advised the passengers to recite Durood Sharif while traveling by trains.

Speaking to newsmen here on Monday, he said railway track is outdated, while trains and railway lines are also in appalling state.

To a question, he said that he would not resign.

The minister said that he would continue to inform the nation about the corruption in Pakistan Railways.

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo--> Cong stamps authority over 2009 alliance

Capt M Kumar, USA, says: TC or Trinamool Congress appears to be quite an independent body with it's agenda of capturing Kolkota. Mamata will like to have every train route routed via Kolkota. I am afraid if not PM, at least FM Pranab may also have to shift his office to Kolkota!


<b>INDIAN RAILWAYS BUDGET : 2009 – 2010</b>

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<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>White paper promise leaves Lalu red-faced</b>
Pioneer News Service | New Delhi
<b>Union Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced that Indian Railways will come out with a “white paper” on its “organisational, operational and financial status” based on last five years’ performance, a move that many believe could spell trouble for Lalu Prasad, whose “turnaround theory” has few buyers. </b>

A<b> red-faced Lalu shot back at the Minister saying she suffered from “complex</b>”, but Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar believed it would expose Mamata’s predecessor for his jugglery.

“The white paper will be used for framing a suitable strategy and roadmap for the coming years. We will draw long-term as well as short-term action plans,” Mamata told reporters here on Friday while trying to suggest it was not against any individual.

But the Budget she tabled in Parliament had already caught Lalu on the wrong foot. <b>The Railway Minister pointed out that figures mentioned in the interim budget (which Lalu presented in February) were “unrealistic”, “unsustainable” and asking for “mid-course correction”. </b>  <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo--> She said high targets were not met due to non-utilisation of commercial ventures.

“I have now set more realistic targets for 2009-10 in the main Budget based on the counting trend in the manufacturing trend of recession in the manufacturing sector and exports,” Mamata said.

<b>She reduced the Railway’s projected receipts by Rs 4,800 crore in the backdrop of its performance shortcomings in 2008-09. Freight loading fell short of the target of 850 million tonnes by 17 million tonnes. Revenues from commercial utilisation of surplus railway lands also did not materialise. “I was surprised to find there was a provision of Rs 3400 crore for resources mobilisation through PPP, of which Rs 3300 crore would just not materialise. This would imply a straight reduction in the annual plan to a level below the actual expenditure in 2008-09,”</b> the Minister pointed out in the Lok Sabha.

Moreover,<b> the net revenue of Indian Railways has been pegged at Rs 8,121.48 crore, down from Rs 10,876.48 crore as presented in the interim Budget</b>.  <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Also, the investible surplus available with the Railways has been lowered to Rs 8,631.04 crore for 2009-10 compared to Rs 13,532.33 crore projected by the former Railway Minister just over four months ago.

Despite this mid-course correction, Mamata has proposed a higher dividend to the Centre at Rs 5,479.22 crore for the current financial year, up from the interim estimate of Rs 5,304.22 crore.

Faced with some hard facts, Lalu tried to put up a brave face by saying he was not afraid of any white paper on the performance of the Railway Minister. “The white paper is her (Mamata’s) shortsightedness, I am not afraid of it,” Lalu told reporters within hours after Mamata presented the Budget.

Saying that Mamata could not pay dividend during her previous stint as the Railway Minister, <b>Lalu pointed out that he had nothing to hide when already people from IIM to Harvard have come to study the Indian Railways turnaround </b>story. “There was least dependence on the Central Government or the market (when I was the Minister),” he claimed. Lalu also used the opportunity to display dissatisfaction on Mamata not involving Bihar in rail lines and expressed the apprehension that rail projects in Bihar might be closed by the Ministry.

But Mamata found a friend in Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a former Railway Minister and predecessor of Lalu, who believed that the white paper would ‘expose’ his arch rival. “The decline shown in the cash surplus and increase in the operating ratio from 70 to 92.5 per cent proposed for the current fiscal will bring to light the facts relating to the Railways earning profits,” Kumar said.

Kumar has been going hammer and tongs at the RJD strongman’s performance as the Railway Minister during the UPA Government’s first term when he demanded a probe into the alleged jugglery of figures in profits between 2004 and 2009.

In another veiled attack on Lalu, Nitish appreciated Mamata for scaling down targets of Railways and making only such promises that were possible to implement within a time-frame. “It is a clear departure from Lalu Prasad’s budgetary speeches, which remained a bundle of promises and much beyond the targets possible to achieve,” he said.

When Mamata was presenting the Budget, there was some exchange of words between her and Lalu. Later, the Railway Minister said she had respect for her predecessor and there was no issue between them.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Stick to trains, Jaitley tells Railway Minister</b>
Pioneer News Service | New Delhi
Debate on Rail Budget in RS
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha <b>Arun Jaitley on Tuesday charged Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee with running a parallel Government and overstepping her brief by announcing several projects like building medical colleges, restaurants, stadia and power plant in the Railway Budget not related to her Ministry.</b> <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->

The senior BJP leader urged the Prime Minister to examine the issue, and if need be, seek an opinion from the Attorney General.<b> Jaitley said announcement of some schemes by the Railway Minister amounted to gross constitutional violation of business rules.</b>
Initiating the debate on Railway Budget in the Rajya Sabha, he said schemes like constructing restaurants, nursing and medical colleges, multi-purpose centres, laying down optical fibre network, constructing stadia in all the railway divisions and a power plant did not fall in the ambit of the Railway Ministry.

He also demanded the scrapping of Tatkal scheme for reservation in trains and said it led to artificial scarcity of tickets.

Jaitley said the Railway Minister did not pay attention to strengthening core areas of her department and instead focussed on these proposed projects. Claiming that Mamata wanted to start a debate on economic versus social viability of the railways, the leader of opposition said the core area of the railways was providing top class facilities to passengers and increase in freight carrying capacities.

Mamata Banerjee, who was present in the House, refuted Jaitley’s charge about running a parallel Government and said the <b>proposed colleges were meant for wards of railway employees and it was a welfare measure for over 14 lakh railway employees.</b>
Railway Ministry always under Bihar or WB MP, Why?
<!--emo&:grenade--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/grenade.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='grenade.gif' /><!--endemo--> Senior functionaries of the ruling coalition, including finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, have in the past few days sought to impress upon the railway minister the need to pipe down her enthusiasm on the subject. Their argument: all railway budgets in the previous government had been presented in Parliament after getting due approval of the Union Cabinet. Since the latter functions on the principle of collective responsibility, any adverse comment on the performance of the railway ministry in the last five years will be seen as a direct indictment of the Cabinet, and the prime minister himself.


<b>Prime Minister Manmohan Singh postpones visit to Kashmir for opening railway line</b>

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has postponed by over a week his planned visit to Kashmir, during which he will inaugurate a 12-km railway line connecting Anantnag and Qazigund that will mark the completion of the rail project in the valley.

The Prime Minister was scheduled to visit the state on October 18 but it had to be postponed because of the non-availability of railway minister Mamata Banerjee, official sources said.

Singh, who is expected to tour the state for two days, is now likely to be there on October 27. During his visit, he is expected to review the railway project connecting the Kashmir valley with Jammu region, the sources said.

He may also review the Dal project besides progress in other developmental schemes under the Prime Minister's Reconstruction Plan.

The Prime Minister had inaugurated the 66-km long section from Anantnag to Mazhom last year. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had earlier this year inaugurated the 35-km-long Mazhom-Baramulla line, part of the 119-Km Qazigund-Baramulla railway line.

An amount of Rs 2,551 crore has been incurred on the Qazigund-Baramulla railway link till end of December last year.

Singh, who was also present at the inauguration early this year, had said the line was bound to catalyse economic growth in the Kashmir valley with the availability of cheaper and more reliable transport.

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->

<b>Train in Kashmir : A dream comes true</b>

[center]<img src='http://www.ndtv.com/news/images/inaugurationbig.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />[/center]

After nine years of wait another crucial part of the Kashmir train line - between Qazigund and Baramullah - is complete, connecting South Kashmir to its north. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is on a two-day visit to the state, today inaugurated the crucial rail link.

This is now the fastest way to travel across the Kashmir Valley: Two hours as against the four hour travel by road.

"This will connect us to every state. It will bring profits. If sending goods in trucks costs Rs 10,000, on a train it will cost just Rs 2,000," said Ali Muhammad, a Qazigund resident.

The line is complete, but the project is not.

<b>Now Baramulla and Qazigund are connected at one end and Katra and Jammu on the other. But the most crucial part - 70 kilometres in between connecting Qazigund to Katra - is underway. It's a route that passes through the steep Pir Panjal Mountains.</b>

The project is an engineering marvel of sorts.

Once built, the 290 kilometre track will boast of 750 rail bridges and hundreds of kilometres of tunnels.

The longest tunnel is 11 kilometres, the highest rail bridge is at 359 metres, and the longest bridge will be 1,315 metres long across Chenab River.

<b>At one point in the Pir Panjal Mountains the track is built at 11,000 feet. The project deadline is 2017.</b>

"The whole area is mountainous and there are a number of tunnels. This area has deep gorges, rivers like Chenab and Alji, and bridges that are very high," said Hari Shankar Yadav, the chief engineer.

Travelling in this train is a dream come true for every Kashmiri. It will run from South to North Kashmir connecting the entire Kashmir valley. Now the big question is how much time will it take to get connected with the rest of the Indian Railway network.

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
I think Indian Railways must buy faster trains, like magnetic ones. Now it is too slow.
Taj Nagar (Gurgaon), January 5

Where there is a will, there is a way. The residents of this hitherto non-descript village in Gurgaon district have proved this old adage true even in the present era, when authorities’ apathy towards common man’s plight has become the order of the day.

Having suffered inconvenience for a long time due to the lack of a railway station in their village, the local residents managed to convince the Railways authorities, pooled money and got a railway station constructed with Rs 24 lakh of their own.


[url="http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/deptts/yearbook/default.htm"][center][size="7"][color="#0000FF"]Indian Railways Annual Reports


Including Year Book 2007-2008[/color][/size]

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[url="http://business.rediff.com/report/2010/feb/25/budget-2010-railway-mamata-takes-finances-off-track.htm"]Mamata takes Railway finances off the track[/url]
Quote:Hindi couplets, shrill notes, political correctness (a coach factory at Rae Bareli, drinking water plant at Amethi) and a bagful of projects for West Bengal [ Images ] (over half a dozen factories and workshops, two museums, one cultural centre and much more) -- nothing that Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee [ Images ] said on Wednesday while presenting the Railway Budget 2010-11 in the Lok Sabha could hide the rot in finances.

Little wonder, she made an impassioned plea to the private sector for investments. "The time has come for the business community to come and join hands to build partnerships with the Railways," she said.

But that didn't keep Banerjee from being populist. She ignored the Planning Commission's advice to raise passenger fares and link freight rates to fuel prices and left both the rates unchanged. In fact, she proposed a cut in service charge for e-tickets.

By now Rae Bareli and Amethi should be most prosperous land on earth. They get loot from every budget.

[Image: pix.jpg]

[url="http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/indianrailways/directorate/stat_econ/pdf/Year_Book_English2008-09.pdf"][center][size="7"][color="#0000FF"]INDIAN RAILWAYS YEAR BOOK


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