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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Modernising Indian Railways ! CNG train and Cash on Delivery ticket

If you are 50+, you will blush reading this – more than a couple of decades ago, any elder’s advice on train travel was :
a)        Don’t forget to carry your ticket [have heard of instances of people realising that they have not carried ticket, rushing back home in taxi/auto to bring the same]
b)        Don’t peek your head out of window – for, coal specs would fall in eye.

Those days, people used to travel with ‘hold-alls’, coffee pot and water jug – getting it refilled in the pumps at every Railway stations. There were specially appointed people providing water on the platform.  Life has moved on the fast lane and Indian Railways need to be complimented for modernisation.

In 1781 James Watt patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotary motion.  Those  engines could be sited anywhere that water and coal or wood fuel could be obtained.  From charcoal, to Diesel to Electric – now comes CNG.  Compressed natural gas (CNG) (Methane stored at high pressure) can be used in place of gasoline (petrol), Diesel fuel and propane/LPG. CNG combustion produces fewer undesirable gases than the other fuels.  It is safer than other fuels in the event of a spill, because natural gas is lighter than air and disperses quickly when released.

During mid Jan 2015, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the first CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) based two trains from Haryana's Rewari station. These trains based on the dual fuel system - diesel and CNG - will reduce greenhouse gas emission and also the consumption of diesel.  The Minister launched the trains on 81 km long  Rewari-Rohtak and Rewari to Bikaner section.

Applied to a passenger train with a 1,400 HP engine, the rake has been modified to run on dual fuels – diesel and CNG. 20% of its fuel consumption will be CNG, with the daily train completing the journey in about 2 hours. With six coaches in tow, all of them manufactured by Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) through fumigation technology, the train has a capacity to carry 770 passengers. But being India, expect that to beat the 1000 mark.With the switch to CNG, the trains will now emit fewer toxic, carcinogenic pollutants and zero particulate matter, a welcome respite from the black smoke spewing diesel electric locomotives that haul people and goods all over India.  The Indian railway plans to start more such trains on other routes in due course to reduce diesel consumption.
Moore Market, originally built to house the hawkers was started in  1900.  It consisted of a series of shops catering to different segments. Over the years, it gradually took the status of a flea market where one could buy rare and second hand items for a bargain. A fire razed the complex in 1985 and on the demolished place came up the new suburban railway station and computerised reservation complex.  One may be surprised to know that till mid 1980s there was only one way of buying a train ticket – standing in long winding queues whence there were specified quotas for each Station. 

The computerised reservation was a marvel – as one could stand in any queue and book ticket for any destination – and that was computerised.  The introduction of e-ticket ensured removal of hassle of carrying ticket as any printed copy would suffice and later we are habituated to travelling with message in our hand-held devices sans printed ticket – what a great relief.

Now moving further, Railways have introduced a system where one can book a rail ticket on line and get it delivered at home whence the payment can be made.   Initiating this “cash on delivery” (CoD) system rail ticketing, IRCTC is targeting those customers who are reluctant to use their credit or debit cards as well as those who don’t have net-banking facility.

“One has to just book the ticket online and payments will be made at the time of delivery of tickets,” said a senior IRCTC official involved with the project.  This scheme has been launched on pilot basis and the service will be available in more than 200 cities initially. Customers can book a ticket 5 days prior to commencement of journey. While Rs 40 will be charged for the delivery of each Sleeper Class ticket, Rs 60 will be charged for an AC class ticket.

This is another attempt to move people away from the ticket counters and decongest the booking windows, the official said.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar                                                             3rd Feb 2015.

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