Bewda Express to Bring Cheers on the Way !

The precise Laws on prohibition in Bihar may not matter much. But the inaccuracies in implementation make it harder to answer a more important question: Are the people of Bihar going to easily accept ?alcohol

There appears to be more cheers for the alcohol-deprived people in Bihar as Indian Railways is going to introduce an aptly named ‘Bewda Express’ train for them. Travel on the train will be free of cost. Dep Patna : 19:00 every Friday. Return: early Monday morning.

Though it may appear as a respite, observers view this move as a direct confrontation between the Centre and the State. The irony being – while the State tries to abolish it, the Centre tries to promote it; each having its own views. 

crowded-trainEver since Nitish Kumar government declared Bihar a dry state, imposing total prohibition on the sale and consumption of liquor after winning the 2015 elections, alcoholics in Bihar have been facing a lot of difficulties. With thousands of them behind bars, others getting beaten up by alcohol vigilantes, hotels and clubs getting deserted, and the business in general drying up, the situation was becoming really grim for the lovers of alcohol. Even the Army has warned both serving and retired military personnel not to carry liquor while transiting through Bihar. Its personnel were arrested for violating the state government’s prohibition law. In an incident, the GRP arrested an Army jawan who was travelling on the Jammu Tawi-Guwahati Amarnath Express after a search of his baggage revealed some liquor bottles. Possession of any liquor is a crime here.

Booze lovers run beyond Bihar. Those residing closer to the border areas were heading for neighboring states like Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh or Nepal. They feel that they must have their daily dose of their drink but people living in Central Bihar couldn’t afford to do that because of the time and cost of travel became deterants. Showering special kindness on these people, Railways minister Suresh Prabhu announced this very special weekend train for them. The highlight being : there is no need of any ticket checking staff. One would travel free !

Views on Bewda Express.

Bihar Government: It is an attack on federalism. “This is just vote bank politics as Modi government is trying to corner the votes of all the alcoholics. They are also trying to ensure our policies fail in the state. We can’t allow this and will start a Rail Roko Andolan to protest against this train”, said a local JDU leader.

For the Bihar government, enforcing a liquor ban is not the only challenge. De-addiction of hundreds of thousands of alcoholics poses a more tough task for it.

Bihar Excise and Prohibition Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan: With the liquor ban, alcoholics will now have to live without alcohol or they have to quit the habit. In such a situation, all of them would develop some health related problems; counselling and treatment would be provided to them by doctors at de-addiction centres.

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Others : Welcome news ! Well done, thank you !! Such an exciting weekend sojourn, the people of India had never it so thrilling in the last 70 years or so. People burst firecrackers outside Patna railway station and laddoos were distributed to the employees of Indian Railways.

The most thrilling thing for the lovers of the amber fluid is that the train will go to a different city every weekend. If it will be Purulia in Bengal one week, then it will be Mughal Sarai in UP the next week and so on. “Through this initiative, we will also be bringing tourism to even the most remote parts of India”, a Railways official said.

But the ride is free…… how will it promote railways ?

LHB Coaches for All Mail and Express Trains

LHB coachTo provide more comforts to passengers, Railways has decided to introduce Linke Holfmann Busch (LHB) coaches in all mail and express trains in the country in a phased manner. The LHB coaches are based on the German technology, ensuring foolproof safety and comforts for passengers. LHB coaches are presently being used in Rajdhani Express, Shatabdi Express, Duronto and Sampoorna Kranti Express trains. Railways would manufacture about 3500 coaches, out of which 500 would be LHB coaches, in the current fiscal. While a conventional coach costs about Rs 15 million, an LHB coach costs about Rs 25 million. The LHB coaches are anti-telescopic and they are equipped with fire retardant and advanced couplers to join coaches. As LHB coaches are anti-telescopic, they cannot turn turtle in case of derailment or collision. In case of fire, there is no toxic fume and black smoke inside these coaches.LHB Rakes

Trains with LHB coaches are fit to run at the maximum speed of 160 km/hour on the existing track condition on the Patna-New Delhi, Patna-Mumbai and Patna-Howrah tracks.

Railways will run Archana Express (12355-12356) between Rajendra Nagar Terminal and Jammu Tawi with LHB coaches from September 10 to improve passengers’ comfort and increase the load combination. The train has received a good response from passengers visiting Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu & Kashmir.

According to East Central Railway (ECR) CPRO Arvind Rajak, the load combination of this train will now be of 22 coaches, including two 2AC, three 3AC, 11 sleeper and three general coaches. However, the number of 3AC coaches will increase to four from September 18, he said, adding that passengers had been demanding an increase in AC3 coaches in this train.

Will the Bullet Train Enterprise become an Engine of Economic Transformation in India?

In December 2015, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet cleared a $14.7bn bullet train system linking the western Indian cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Japan is promoting the Shinkansen bullet train system in India as the latter intends to launch high-speed railway system in furtherance of economic
Japan is promoting the Shinkansen bullet train system in India as it intends to launch high-speed railway system.

As a matter of fact, the Indian Railways symbolises the decaying nature of Indian Railways’ infrastructure. The basic issue is that the IR hardly earns enough to pay for itself, is cash strapped mainly due to the recurring losses in the passenger segment of its operations. IR get every year huge aids in the form of government funding and stays afloat.

Its top managers have frequently warned of the crisis. As per IR top officials: “In the final analysis, the performance of the organisation would be just at the bottom-line and unless we are in a position to control the expenditure and increase the earnings on a sustained basis, survival for the organisation becomes a very difficult proposition”.

The challenge has been clear for many years. In 2012, a high-level government committee had identified that the condition of the tracks and bridges as a cause of major concern. Weak tracks slow down the trains’ and freight movement. The committee made several recommendations like modernising of the 19,000 km of existing tracks that comprise nearly 40% of the total network and carrying about 80% of the traffic._87211824_87211447

The committee had also strongly advocated the strengthening of the 11,250 bridges to sustain higher loads at higher speeds, as nearly 25% of 131,000 bridges are more than 100 years old.

Rs. 80,00,000 million had even been finalized as an outlay for this.

But the railways did not spend even a small part of this.

Against this backdrop, top Railways analysts of India are of the opinion that the same Bullet Train investment should be used on upgrading the entire railway infrastructure. It would have been much more economically helpful than the Bullet Train project.

Shouldn’t the dedication be on modernising and upgrading the entire system as a top priority?

indian railways SCR_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_1_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_0Population growth in India is such that more than a million young people is added to its work force every month. But, due to one reason or the other, important decisions on the filling of 1000s of vacancies, including those of safety related, track maintenance and signalling works, keep getting delayed. While millions of the country’s citizens continuously seek jobs; 1000s of crucial posts in the Railways have remained vacant for several years. It defies logic !

There is little doubt that giving a face-lift to the entire network and work culture would lead to creation of many more new jobs than such a single capital intensive project.

How does this augur with Prime Minister Modi’s statement on the Bullet train system –

“This enterprise will launch a revolution in Indian railways and speed up India’s journey into the future. It will become an engine of economic transformation in India.”

aeroplanetakeoff-5Comparative Study of Bullet Train and Aircraft Services between Mumbai and Ahmedabad :-

If one indeed had $14.7bn fund in hand, the Bullet Train project does not score high when it is compared with Air connectivity. It would be prudent to deploy aeroplanes in place of trains.

 

Bullet Train Vs Aeroplane
Bullet Train Vs Aeroplane

Sometimes, not to invest becomes more advantageous. Before investing in new mega projects, it is necessary to review the present situation and other available options.

A Bullet train ride will cost Rs 3300; while the airline will happily serve the traveler for as low a fare as Rs 2900 !!

In May 2016, during the course of the review of the railways sector, it was noted that the capital investment in 2015-16 was over Rs. 9,30,000 million. This represents a massive increase of 65 per cent over the previous year, and is the highest-ever, as per a PMO statement. The PMO added that 1780 km of rail lines have been commissioned and 1730 kms electrified during 2015-16, which represent the best performance on these metrics in railway history.

Even after this, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to emphasise the need for the railways to upgrade and diversify the uses of its infrastructure, as is apparent from the statement. PM Modi has asked the railways to speed up redevelopment of stations and substantially raise its “level of ambition” in this regard.

“Centre is working on upgrading rail infra. In rural areas this will boost skill development & increase non-fare revenue for railways,” PM Modi has said in a tweet.

“Progress in commissioning of lines & electrification of lines has been commendable. Discussed speeding up process of redeveloping stations,” he said in another tweet.