New Delhi: Union minister Piyush Goyal Friday said that the railways has no plans to privatise the national transporter or its premium trains such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi express, amidst speculation that there was a proposal to rope in private operators. Responding to a query on the privatisation of these trains and the entire network, Goyal told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that “no plan has been made”.The ministry in its 100-day plan has proposed that it will offer two trains to IRCTC, to operate on haulage concept, with ticketing, onboard services to be provided by them. The plan proposed that that the trains will run on important routes like the Golden Quadrilateral and Diagonals and connecting major cities. The proposal said that the RFQ/RFP will be floated in the next 100 days to initiate bidding. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep”Whether it is a fact that Government is planning for privatisation of trains like Rajdhani and Shatabdi; In what manner Government would control the whimsicality of the private operators and travel fare after privatisation of Railways,” asked Samajwadi Party MP Surendra Nath Nagar. Goyal replied, “No plan has been made for privatization of Rajdhani/Shatabdi trains. There is no plan for privatization of Railways.” The railway worker Unions have been up in arms against the proposal and demanded to know why railways’ production units are planned to be corporatised. In the 100-day proposal, the railways has also proposed to hive off its seven production units and associated workshops into a new entity called the Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsMeanwhile, the Ministry of Railways has dropped plans to provide wifi facility on running trains, the government said Friday. In a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said as a pilot project, the railways had provided wifi-based internet facility in Howrah-Rajdhani train through satellite communication technology. “This technology was capital intensive with recurring cost in the form of bandwidth charges and thus was not cost effective. Also, the internet bandwidth availability to passengers was inadequate. Hence, the project was dropped,” he said. “Presently, wi-fi based Internet facility for providing reliable, cost effective and adequate internet bandwidth (~ 2Mbps per user) on moving trains is not available,” he said. The railways has however said while 1,606 stations across railways’ network already have free wifi, it will be extended to the remaining 4,791 stations within this year. Goyal said the ministry has taken steps to install CCTV cameras in all coaches of Premium, Mail, Express and Suburban trains. CCTV cameras in 7,020 coaches of such trains have been planned during Phase-I of the installation project. Also, twenty-four train sets have been planned for procurement from Japan for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed project, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Friday. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Goyal said the estimated total cost of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project, including the cost of rolling stock, is Rs 1,08,000 crore, out of which 81 per cent price will be funded through the loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project is targeted to be completed by 2023. “Twenty-four train sets have been planned for procurement from Japanese companies through tendering process for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project. “As per the memorandum of understanding signed between the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited and Japanese side, in order to promote ‘Make in India’, 06 out of above 24 train sets are presently planned for assembling in India, for which location is planned to be decided by the Japanese supplier,” Goyal said. In another development, the Railways is conducting extensive trials of Tri-Netra technology but it cannot be introduced till it is found to be perfect in detecting any obstruction on tracks during fog, the Rajya Sabha was informed Friday. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal told members during the Question Hour that the Tri-Netra system is another attempt by the Railways to develop modern technology. “This is also under extensive trials. This Tri-netra device is making an attempt during fog through ultrasonic waves where it will be able to detect any obstruction on tracks. It is under testing, but without proper testing it cannot be implemented, as it does not give us the confidence to implement it,” the minister said. Goyal also informed members that Railways is setting up small Reverse Osmosis (RO) water plants at some stations for provisions of drinking water to people. “In 2002-03 what was developed was tried extensively but was found to be not successful. Unless extensive trials take place, you cannot introduce unless there are extensive trials and that can cause more damage. That project was aborted. Subsequently we developed another technology of Fog-past devices for seeing in fog,” he told the House. “The TRI-NETRA (Terrain Imaging for Drivers Infrared, Enhanced, Optical & Radar Assisted) system comprises Infrared Camera, Optical Camera and Radar assisted imaging system to assist Loco pilots to identify obstructions on tracks, especially in foggy conditions. Its testing on all parameters will be done after its procurement and field trials as proof of concept,” the minister said in his written reply. Responding to a query on lack of availability of water on trains, the minister said Railways has gone into the issue and the pressure with which water was loaded on trains was found to be less as demand of water was much less earlier. “We have now taken a policy decision that we are changing the system for high pressure pumping so that water tanks get full and nobody has problems during the journey. “While we are distributing Rail Neer inside trains, we are also setting up small RO plants at different stations where people can procure water for drinking,” he said.
“We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound,” he told The Associated Press by telephone. Small pieces of space debris — usually parts of comets or asteroids — that are on a collision course with the Earth are called meteoroids. When meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere they are called meteors. Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere, but if they survive the frictional heating and strike the surface of the Earth they are called meteorites. (Fox news) A meteor streaked across the sky above Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and injuring more than 400 people, many of them hurt by broken glass.“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people’s houses to check if they were OK,” said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region. Fragments of the meteor fell in a thinly populated area of the Chelyabinsk region, the Emergency Ministry said in a statement. Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said more than 400 people had sought medical treatment after the blasts, and at least three had been hospitalized in serious condition. Many of the injuries were from glass broken by the explosions.Kolsenikov also said about 600 square meters (6000 square feet) of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed. Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteor.Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT), leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.Russian news reports noted that the meteor hit less than a day before the asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid — about 17,150 miles (28,000 kilometers). There was no immediate demonstrable connection.