Railway News 8th Oct to 19th Oct

A) Akola Railway station given handsome funds for development

The Centre has provided Rs 150 crore for the development of Akola railway station in Maharashtra. The Akola Railway station lies under Bhusawal division of Central Railway. The HQ of central Railway is at CSMT, Mumbai.

B) “Policy on Development of Goods-sheds” at small stations through private investment

The Ministry of Railways issued a Policy on Development of Goods-sheds at small/road-side stations through Private Investment. The policy was issued with an aim to augment terminal capacity through private participation by allowing setting up of new goods-shed facilities and developing existing goods-sheds at a larger number of stations. The Railway’s financial health is poor and this policy will help in generation of revenue through public-private participation.

Salient features of the Policy:

  • Private parties permitted to develop goods wharf, loading/unloading facilities, facilities for labour (resting space with shade, drinking water, bathing facilities, etc) approach road, covered shed and other related infrastructure. 
  • The facilities are to be created/developed by the private party through its own investment.
  • All developments for the proposed facility will be as per approved Railway designs and constructed to approved Railway standards and specifications.
  • Railways shall not levy any departmental or any other charges for the construction.
  • The facilities created by the private party shall be used as a common user facility, and no preference or priority will be granted to the traffic of the party over the traffic of other customers.
  • Responsibility for maintenance of assets and facilities created shall be vested with the party during the agreement period.

Incentives offered under the scheme:

  • Share in the Terminal Charges (TC) and Terminal Access Charges (TAC), as the case may be, for all the inward and outward traffic dealt at the goods-shed for five years, from the date of completion of the work.
  • The party seeking the least share (TC/TAC) shall be selected through competitive bidding, to be done At Divisional Level.
  • Additional revenue for the party through – utilization of available space for establishing small canteen/tea-shop, advertisements, etc.

C) Indian Railway Finance Corp, RailTel plans IPO for selling their stakes

The finance ministry is looking at launching the initial public offering (IPO) of Indian Railway Finance Corp Ltd (IRFC) and state-owned telecom infrastructure provider RailTel Corporation. It is estimated to sell about 25 per cent in IRFC and 27 per cent stake in RailTel. 

RailTel has already filed Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP) with the market regulator SEBI for an IPO.

Apart from these the Government is also planning for disinvestment in Container Corporation of India. The government has plans for generating revenue of the order of 2.1 lakh crore through disinvestment in this year. IPO of LIC is also on the cards.

The government is also considering selling stakes in Air India, Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Shipping Corporation of India Ltd.

D) UNESCO world heritage revamp: CSMT railway station

The 132-year-old station CSMT formerly known as Victoria Terminus, is up for a historic overhaul. Huge development and makeover has been planned in and around the building to restore its pre- 1930 glory.

UNESCO world heritage site, the old structure cannot be touched. The plan is to demolish the nearby buildings that house administration offices, an eyesore by any standard. The refurbished station will function like a city-centre mall complete with retail outlets, eateries, entertainment facilities, hotels and souvenir shops, among others.

Since CSMT caters to over one million commuters daily during normal operations, arrival and departure need to be segregated. The core operations such as train and parcel movement, signaling and ticketing will continue to remain with the railways. The project will try to integrate various modes such as the proposed fast track of Harbour Line that connects the island city to Navi Mumbai, and the metro line, to make it a transport hub.

There’s more. Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC), which is driving the bidding process.

E) Loading improves for Railways!

In the first four days of October, the national transporter has registered an impressive 15 per cent jump in freight loading, as compared to the same period last year.

From 1 October 2019 to 4 October 2019, Indian Railways had registered freight loading of 11.06 Million Tonnes, while in the first four days of October 2020, the national transporter has registered freight loading of 12.77 Million tonnes, thereby registering a jump of 15 per cent.

 F) Railways permit cooked food to be sold at stations for the first time since Covid-19 outbreak

Ahead of the festival season rush, the Railways have allowed cooked food to be sold at food plazas and shops at railway stations for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak, according to an order issued by railways’ catering arm the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

The national carrier had so far allowed the sale of only packaged food across catering and vending units at stations. Food stalls across platforms had been shut throughout the nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25.

G) Indian Railways launches women safety initiative ‘Meri Saheli’

Indian Railways has launched a new initiative aimed at promoting women safety during the high-footfall festive season. In view of the ongoing pandemic situation, the Railway Ministry has directed to enforce and adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols and guidelines.  

The new initiative “Meri Saheli” was launched to provide better safety and security to lady passengers travelling by trains. The railway ministry said the initiative “is aimed at instilling a sense of security among the lady passengers and respond effectively to any security-related issue faced or seen by lady passengers”.

H) Indian Railways extends 50% subsidy on the movement of notified fruits, vegetables on Kisan Rail

To support and provide incentives for the farmers using the services of Kisan Rail, Railway Ministry and Ministry of Food Processing Industries have decided that the 50% subsidy on transportation of notified fruits and vegetables shall be granted directly to Kisan Rail – for which MoFPI will provide necessary funds to Ministry of Railways. This subsidy has become applicable of Kisan Rail trains with effect from October 14, 2020.

Eligible Items under subsidy:

  • Fruits- Mango, Banana, Guava, Kiwi, Litchi, Papaya, Mousambi, Orange, Kinnow, Lime, Lemon,  Pineapple, Pomegranate, Jackfruit, Apple, Almond, Aonla, Passion fruit and Pear;
  • Vegetables – French beans, Bitter Gourd, Brinjal, Capsicum, Carrot, Cauliflower, Chillies (Green), Okra, Cucumber, Peas, Garlic, Onion, Potato and Tomato.
  • Any other fruit/vegetable can be added in future on the basis of the recommendation by the Ministry of Agriculture or State Government.

Question No-1: Meri Saheli initiative launched by which Ministry for safety of ladies?

A) Women and Child Development Ministry

B) Ministry of Railways

C) Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

D) Ministry of culture