Several agencies provide technical and consultancy services to the Railways. These agencies work under the control of the Ministry of Railways, Government of India. For example, the funds for the Railways are raised by the Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC). Similarly, the catering and internet ticketing services of IR are looked after by another agency called Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC). A brief description of the various agencies working under the Ministry of Railways is given in the following sections.
Rail India Technical and Economic Services Ltd
The Rail India Technical Economic Services Ltd (RITES), a Government of India Undertaking, provides consultancy services on all aspects of the Railways from concept to completion. RITES is closely linked with Indian Railways and is in a privileged position to draw freely upon the huge pool of experience, expertise, and technical know-how acquired over a century of operations for Indian Railways.
RITES is a multidisciplinary, ISO 9001: 2000 certified consultancy organization in the field of transportation infrastructure and related technologies. It is a Mini Ratna Company and provides consultancy services from concept to commissioning in the fields of railways, urban transport, urban development and urban engineering, roads and highways, airports, ropeways, inland waterways, ports and harbours, information technology, and export packages of rolling stock and railway-related equipment. Its diversified device packages include among others, feasibility, design and detailed engineering, multimodal transport studies, project management and construction supervision, quality assurance and management, materials management, workshop management, operations and maintenance, system engineering, economic and financial evolution, financing plan and privatization, property development, railway electrification, signalling and telecommunication, environment impact assessment, and training and human resources development.
RITES had a total turnover of 2850 million in 2003-04 and earned a before-tax profit of Rs 820 million.
Indian Railways Construction Company Ltd
IRCON International Ltd, a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways, was incorporated in 1976 as an Indian Railway construction company, as a specialized agency to undertake major railways projects both in India and abroad. This organization was set up with a view to channelize the export of construction services, technological know-how, and special skills gained by Indian Railways in the last 150 years. IRCON is in the ideal position to undertake the entire spectrum of construction activities concerning the various railway disciplines-civil, mechanical, electrical, signalling, telecommunications, etc.
From being an exclusive railway construction company, IRCON diversified its activities in 1985 to other sectors such as roads, highways, expressways, road bridges, flyovers, cable stayed bridges, mass rapid transit systems, buildings, industrial and residential complexes, airports, and hangers. In 1993, IRCON included BOT (build, operate, and transfer), BOOT (build, operate, own, and transfer), BLT (build, lease, and transfer) projects, business relating to leasing, real estate, etc., and in 1997, business relating to commercial operations of air transport was included and extended. In order to provide a full range of telecom and IT services in India and abroad, telecommunication was added in 1999.
Presently, IRCON is listed 128th amongst the top 225 international construction contractors, and is amongst the top ten in Engineering News-Record mass transit and rail rankings (published by McGraw-Hill).
IRCON is an ISO 9002 certified construction company and has completed projects in Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Zambia.
During the year 2003-04 IRCON had a total turnover of Rs 7920 million, with a net profit of Rs 620 million and net foreign exchange earnings of Rs 1140 million.
Indian Railway Finance Corporation
IRFC was incorporated as a public limited company in December 1986 with the sole objective of raising funds for the railways from the market based on the requirement of the Ministry of Railways to partly finance the plan outlay and meet the developmental needs of IR.
IRFC has successfully met its targets year after year. It raises funds through by issuing taxable and tax-free bonds, through term loans from banks/financial institutions, and through external commercial borrowings/export credit.
Since its inception, IRFC has consistently earned profits and has already paid Rs 6980 million (including an interim dividend of Rs 650 million for the fiscal year 2003-04) as dividend to the Government on the paid-up capital of Rs 2320 million.
Container Corporation of India Ltd
Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR) was incorporated in March 1988 under the Companies Act 1956 as a public sector enterprise under the Ministry of Railways. It was set up to promote, provide for, and manage multimodal transport
in the country with the prime objective to support the country's growing international trade as well as for the transport of domestic cargo in containers by adopting the latest technology and practices. The company commenced operations in November 1989.
The corporation was set up with an authorized capital of Rs 1000 million. The paid-up capital of the company is Rs 650 million. The Government of India has gradually divested its equity holding in the company through three divestment exercises in 1994-95, 1995-96, and 1998-99. Currently the Government holds 63% equity in the company and the remaining 37% is held by financial institutions and individuals.
CONCOR has evolved a strategy to transform the company from an operational entity into a market-driven organization in order to ensure its leadership in the multimodal market. The four specific areas identified under this strategy are total logistics solutions, cold chain, coastal shipping, and extension of intermodal services to neighbouring countries.
As a terminal and warehouse operator, CONCOR has created a network of 51 container terminals across the country. Except the few terminals which are exclusively road-fed inland container depots (ICDs), the majority of the terminals on its network are linked by rail.
CONCOR's custom bonded ICDs are dry ports in hinterland and serve the purpose of bringing all port facilities, including customs clearance, to the customers' doorstep. Its terminals provide a spectrum of facilities in terms of warehousing, container parking, repair facilities, and even office complexes. CONCOR had a total income of Rs 18,070 million in 2003-04, with a net profit of about Rs 3680 million after tax.
Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd
Konkan Railways is the first railway project in the country to be executed on the BOT principle. The company was formed with the participation of four states, namely, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala, along with the Ministry of Railways with Rs 8000 million as equity and Rs 27,500 million raised in bonds, funding the total cost of the project of Rs 35,500 million. Construction work began in 1990 and the whole 760-km line was completed in 1998 and dedicated to the nation on 1 May 1998. At present there are 13 pairs of express trains and 5 pairs of passenger trains running over the Konkan Railway route. These have reduced the distance and travel time to Southern India.
Some of the technologies used by Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd (KRCL) are listed here.
(a) The innovative roll-on-roll-off scheme has enabled the transport of more than 50,000 trucks in 5 years.
(b) The various special safety measures adopted by KR on its route are installation of inclinometers in soil cuttings for pre-warning about the collapse of the cutting, coupled with raksha dhaga and anti-collision devices (ACDs) for warning an approaching train.
(c) Konkan Railways is making extensive usage of the developments in IT to modernize its working style and make its day-to-day operations more efficient. KRCL's gross revenue from traffic during the year 2003-04 was Rs 2350 million.
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd
IRCTC is a new corporation under the Ministry of Railways. Some of the important projects undertaken by the corporation are the following:
Catering services IRCTC has awarded 17 contracts for on-board catering services in trains, taking the total number of trains covered to 71. These include 5 Rajdhani, 2 Shatabdi, 17 Jan Shatabdi, and 47 mail/express trains.
Internet ticketing system The facility of booking railway tickets through the Internet has been extended to 120 cities across the country. Payment is accepted through credit cards, debit cards, or direct debit to the account of the customer.
Packaged drinking water project The first Rail Neer plant of the corporation was inaugurated in May 2003, and a second in February 2004. Good quality drinking water is supplied to passengers and other rail users.
RailTel Corporation of India Ltd
RailTel is a public sector undertaking under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways. RailTel was incorporated in September 2000 with an authorized capital of Rs 10,000 million. The main objectives of the company, inter alia, include building a nationwide telecom multimedia network for laying optical fibre cables (OFCs) with a view to modernize the Railways' communication systems for safe and efficient train operation and to generate revenue through the commercial use of the system.
Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd
Rail Vikas Nigam Limitd (RVNL) is a special purpose organization set up to execute two vital components of National Rail Vikas Yojna launched by the Government of India. Its main objectives are to undertake projects of development, financial resource mobilization, and execution of projects on a commercial basis using largely non-budgetary funds. These projects are expected to remove capacity bottlenecks on the golden quadrilateral (railway line connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata) and its diagonals and to augment port connectivity. RVNL is expected to take up only bankable projects which can attract market funding without Government guarantee.
Pipavan Railway Corporation Limited
Pipavan Railway Corporation Ltd (PRCL), a joint venture of the Ministry of Railways and Gujarat Pipavan Port Limited (GPPL) with equal equity participation, was formed to execute the Surendra Nagar-Rajula-Pipavan port gauge conversion/ new line project. This is the first railway infrastructure executed through private sector participation. PRCL has the concessionary rights to construct, operate, and maintain this project line for 33 years. It is entitled to the rights, obligations, and
duties of a railway administration as enumerated in the Railways Act 1989. This project line was commissioned in March 2003 for freight operation. During the year 2003-04, PRCL handled 266 trains, including 112 container trains, and transported 0.4 million tonnes of cargo.
Centre for Railway Information Systems
Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), which is an autonomous body under the patronage of Ministry of Railways, was established as a non-profit-making organization and entrusted with the design, development, and information of all major computer services of the Railways. During the last few years CRIS has made substantial progress in the freight operation information system (FOIS), passenger reservation system (PRS), national train enquiry system (NTES), microprocessor-based self-printing ticketing machines, and track management system.
Indian Railway Welfare Organisation
Indian Railway Welfare Organisation (IRWO) an autonomous body under the patronage of Ministry of Railways, was registered on 25 September 1989 under the Societies Registration Act for meeting the specific needs of housing for serving and retired railway employees; its headquarters is at New Delhi. IRWO has been constructing houses in different cities and towns all over the country on a selffinancing basis for serving and retired railway employees purely as a welfare activity on a 'no-profit-no-loss' basis.
In the last few years, IRWO has already acquired land in about 20 places and has announced group housing schemes at Noida, Gurgaon, Gorakhpur, Kolkata, Chennai, Indirapuram (Ghaziabad), Hyderabad, Chandigarh, and a few other places. They have already completed housing projects at Noida, Gurgaon, Gorakhpur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, and Mumbai in record time and handed over the flats to their owners.
The Indian Railways has played an integral role in the social and economic development of the country. The Railways has been performing the dual role of functioning as a commercial undertaking and a provider of public utility service. The key challenge for the Indian Railways in the passenger traffic segment is to maintain its social obligation on low-price service lines while at the same time increasing both capacity and utilization in the upper class services, through a strategy for higher growth in traffic as well as appropriate tariff balancing. The administrative costs of the Railways have been increasing rapidly. With about 1.55 million employees, the Indian Railways is the largest employer among public sector undertakings in the country. The real reason for the financial problems confronting the Railways is, in fact, overstaffing.
1. What are the different modes of transport? Compare rail transport with road transport, listing advantages and disadvantages of both.
2. What are the objectives of the long-term corporate plans of Indian Railways? How do they compare with the existing level of achievements?
3. Discuss the role of Indian Railways in the social and economic development of the country. Mention briefly the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian Railways.
4. Give the complete classification of a railway line as adopted by Indian Railways.
5. Discuss the organizational structure of Indian Railways. How are the duties distributed in a typical zonal railway headquarter?
6. What is the staff strength of Indian Railways? List the training institutions where the officers of Indian Railways are trained.
7. Discuss the merits and demerits of diesel and electric traction.
8. What are the social obligations of Indian Railways? Discuss the main components of Social Service Obligation.
9. Write short notes on the following.
(c) Rail Vikas Nigam Limited
(d) Commission of Railway Safety