SNCF to move industrious train project under way

August 3, 2016

SNCF (National Society of French Railways), France’s state-owned railway company who are also the international consultants for the Delhi-Chandigarh semi-high speed train project, have completed the initial round of feasibility studies for the project. SNCF is also studying the way forward for the renovation of two stations – at Ambala and Ludhiana.

SNCF has prepared three options which have been presented to the Indian government. The priority in the first scenario was given to minimum investments while the second option focused on completing the train journey between Ambala and Chandigarh in just two hours. The third priority was given to a possibility where the train could achieve speeds of 200 kmph. With the preparation of the three scenarios, the end of the first phase of studies is complete.

SNCF’s Asia Director, Philippe Lorand, said that SNCF would now jointly work with the Indian government representatives to help them understand the different options and the associated costs with each option. “We hope that by the time of the second steering committee meeting by the end of September, Indian Railways will be in a position to select one of the scenarios with which they want to go forward and for which they would want us to prepare the documentation so that they could launch the tenders.” He added, “The work of the steering committee is not just to select one of the options but also to tell us how they want to tweak their requirements within the budgets they have.”

On the Indian side, the steering committee members are headed by Alok Kansal, Divisional Railway Manager, South Eastern Central Railway.

The study was financed both by France and India and launched in January. The background to this is the agreement signed between the two countries when the French President visited India in February 2013, and last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Paris in April.

Smooth Roads and Long Journeys

June 22, 2016

NPCI A P Hota 


Meet AP Hota, MD&CEO, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the man overseeing the setting up of a nationwide payment infrastructure that will enable barrier-free tolling. Over the last five years, NPCI has travelled a fair distance itself, starting from a single service of switching of inter-bank ATM transactions. Today, the range of services has grown to cheque clearing, immediate payments, automated clearing house, electronic benefit transfer and a domestic card payment network named RuPay. Its long-term goals are to get every Indian to start making digital transactions in every sphere of life, reducing their dependency on ATMs.


Excerpts from an interview:



What is the relevance of NPCI to infrastructure?

NPCI falls into the category of financial market infrastructure. Our infrastructure is not visible to the naked eye. The financial market infrastructure, however, is huge. Within this, NPCI plays the role of a utility. We are like a utility to the banks wherein we facilitate over 20 million transactions daily.


Surely, such volumes require a robust data connectivity network?

Yes, the most important challenge is the telecommunication and data networks that we face in our work to connect banks and to connect people. While all the major banks are already connected, there are banks in the remote areas that cannot connect because the data grid technologies are not in place. There is an attempt to make mobile banking available and pervasive. However, only the short-message service (SMS) and call services are available throughout the country, not the data grid services. This is where the government’s optic fiber network, whenever it gets rolled out, will be useful since only then, financial services will be able to ride on that network.


Moreover, in financial services, we need 24*7 power. This is why companies are shifting their data centres to Hyderabad because, possibly, the availability of power there is much better. For instance, beyond Vashi in Navi Mumbai, uninterrupted power is not available. This is why nobody wants to put up their data centres close to Mumbai because if they do that, their data centres will have to run on diesel generators and that will be much more expensive. Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad are preferable destinations in comparison.


Even where you do have connectivity, India ranks pretty low on speed and quality of connection. Comment.

This is true. Even when someone is expected in our office, and we need to provide a demo, we have to be very careful to see that the mobile network is really working properly! Since connectivity is a problem, we may have to go to certain corners or areas where the signals are stronger to get the link. This is the scenario in a city like Mumbai in the middle of its new financial hub. Nonetheless, it is improving and there hasn’t been a serious issue that has affected any transaction in the real world. However, if we want to integrate the whole country with a digital payment system, the optic fiber network is something we will have to look at for this purpose. A great thrust is coming on our payments system on mobile devices.


How are you dealing with this?

The challenge is with respect to the data network. There are quite a few dark spots in the country where there is zero connectivity. There is no mobile connectivity even. We have come out with a solution which is that we use the USSD-based financial transaction. This stands for unstructured supplementary service data and it means that wherever the voice grid link is available, USSD also works. This channel is not a data channel but almost like a voice grid channel but on which messages can travel. It is possible at least for the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phones. USSD is a capability built into the GSM standard. This is already in operation with almost a million transactions daily but for such a large country, a million transactions are also hardly anything!


Are you involved in the e-tolling project for setting up the clearing house?

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has given us the responsibility to build the clearing house for e-tolling. In this system, we are envisaging a barrier-free tolling system. For this, at the back-end, the money transaction will happen through us.


Sometime back too, this had been envisaged. What happened?
What had happened then was that some toll booths were given to ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. ICICI Bank made it operational in about 160 toll booths and issued about 300,000 cards or so. Many of them are not working right now. A particular area was also given to each of the banks and they were not allowed to infringe on each other’s areas. Similarly, in the south, few areas were given to Axis Bank. However, Axis Bank did not start the project at all. ICICI Bank began but it was nominal. Now, however, there is a plan to make it inter-operable. In this new system, all banks will be able to issue cards. If this happens, and the data needs to go to different banks, there will have to be an interbank transaction. That will be done through the clearing house. We have started the work of building the clearing house. We are awaiting the Reserve Bank’s approval of the clearing system as this is a payment system with multiple banks. We expect the time-line to be around July or August. Initially, around 300 toll booths would start this off. It is already there in 160 booths by ICICI as mentioned earlier but they will have to slightly revamp their process to align with the new system. The toll booths have already been told to ready themselves along the Golden Quadrilateral, to start with. This can then be taken forward on the state highways.


Initially, they have mandated only one lane on each side. Gradually, they will increase this as and when the cards are issued in bigger numbers. The numbers of electronic toll collection (ETC) lanes will also go up simultaneously. In two-three years from now, most of the lanes will be ETC lanes. The cards will be sold mostly through the toll booths.


Do the cards issued by banks need to be displayed or would it be done via the license plates?

It will be an RFID card, and not with the license plate.


In the future, do we have to display these cards as a norm?

Yes, because one could probably tamper with number plates leading to problems in reconciliation. Moreover, all new cars released to the market also carry a chip with certain functionalities that can be leveraged. However, we are not adopting this like in many other countries. I do not know if the cars in India have this device with an RFID tag but nonetheless, the majority of the cars out there today are old cars. They would not be having this device so it is better to go for the card system issued by banks.


What are the new products that you are bringing to the market?

Quite a few, actually. One of them is the unified payments interface (UPI) which is an improvement over the current real-time money transfer. Sending money in real-time 24*7 via any channel was already there. Now, we have improved it by making it real-time collect. Earlier, it was only real-time sending. Also, earlier, for sending money, you needed the bank account number and other details. Now, I can just ask you a financial address. Suppose I want to send money to you and you have already registered under the new system, say – karan@hdfc – I can send money to this address. HDFC Bank will translate this to make the deposit in the appropriate account. So, the financial address is email-like.


The second product that we expect to introduce by the end of June is the bill payments infrastructure. Currently, we pay most of our utility bills mostly in cash or cheque. Therefore, we are setting up a national level bill payments infrastructure.


The third product is the e-tolling that I talked about earlier. The fourth product is tap-and-go payment. We are trying this out in Bengaluru with the public bus commute system. People can just tap a device and walk into the bus and tap it again before dismounting. These systems were tried earlier in different cities but they were not scalable. Now, there is a national specification and these would be rolled out based on some common standards. In fact, the name already proposed by the Honourable Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu for this card is the National Common Mobility Card. This is proposed to work for buses, trains, taxis and even the metro. Hopefully, our project will begin in Bengaluru soon, followed by Kochi Metro which will be a full-fledged roll-out. In Bengaluru, the card will be issued by only Axis Bank but in Kochi, there will be multiple cards.


We also have a plan for coming out with RUPay credit cards.


What is your vision and your long-term targets?

People should be primarily transacting digitally, for every need, not relying on ATMs all the time. The banks are the custodians of people’s money as well as the prepaid issuers and we aim to facilitate their transactions. If people transact digitally, there will be less movement of cash and consequently, less printing of cash. The government will therefore, save a significant amount of money. The Reserve Bank of India is supportive of our initiatives and the government is also extremely enthusiastic about it.

National highways to have basic amenity centres every 25 km

March 8, 2016

Driving long distance on India’s national highways may no longer be a taxing affair with the government planning to provide amenities such as washrooms, drinking water and multi-utility shops every 25 km. (HT File Photo)

Planning an inter-city road trip but anxious about the absence of basic facilities along the road?

Driving long distance on India’s national highways may no longer be a taxing affair with the government planning to provide amenities such as washrooms, drinking water and multi-utility shops every 25 km.

A larger complex of services — rest areas for drivers, washrooms, bathing areas, restaurants, big multi-utility shops and adequate parking facilities — will be built every 50 kilometres.

The road transport ministry has unveiled a draft policy to standardise highway wayside amenities that are scarce and unevenly distributed, unlike other countries that have a uniform standard of facilities.

“In some highway stretches you have good restaurants and washrooms but in many stretches you have skeletal facilities. In some others, especially remote areas, wayside amenities are non-existent. So we decided to come out with a policy that has set uniform standard,” said an official.

The highways ministry will invite private players to build,operate and maintain the facilities for a fixed number of years. “We are exploring various modes of developing such facilities and augmenting the existing facilities,” another ministry official added.

On Friday while launching the Rs 30,000 crore Sethu Bharatam programme that envisages building new bridges and overhauling old ones, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke about the emphasis on providing quality wayside amenities to highway commuters.

“We will soon hold a meeting with all stakeholders including private developers to get their views on the draft policy,” said a ministry official.

The ministry is exploring various modes of developing these services. These include development, operations and maintenance on a public-private partnership mode, where private developers would be given land to build and run such a facility for 15-20 year concession period.

For highway stretches that are not financially viable, the ministry is ready to try out the EPC(Engineering Procurement contract) mode where the government provides 100% funding for building the wayside amenities.

The ministry is also looking at incentivising petrol or diesel retail outlet owners on national highways for upgrading the quality of basic toilet-cum-drinking water facilities being provided.


Sources: Hindustan Times

Government of India to increase National Highway cover to 2 lakh kilometres

March 8, 2016

In order to address the rising vehicle congestion in the country, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has announced that the national highway cover will be increased from the current 96,000 kilometres to 2 lakh kilometres. He said that a formula has been devised based on vehicular traffic movement, according to which four-lane, six-lane and express highways will be developed.

Gadkari said, “At present, we have 96,000km national highways or 52 lakh km road length in the country. As much as 40 per cent of the traffic moves on these 2 per cent national highways and as a result, five lakh accidents take place.”

Smooth sailing, despite what it looks like

“Three lakh people get injured and 1.5 lakh are killed in these accidents. The main reason is traffic congestion. Therefore, to save lives of people and diversify traffic, our Government has decided to extend national highways from 96,000 km to two lakh km. Nearly 70 per cent to 80 per cent traffic of the country move on this,” he further added.

He also said that in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the total length of national highways was 8,483km of which 4,500km was with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and 3,134km was with state Public Works Department. “In the next two months, we have decided to expand this 8,483km to 17,000km which is double. Few proposals have been submitted by the state government and others by MPs and MLAs.”

Additionally, two new highways will be developed in Uttar Pradesh. “First is east-west highway on which we are going to spend Rs 1,400 crore. This will reduce Delhi’s traffic by 50 per cent. The second one is from Delhi to Dasna, which would be 14-lane, a first time in the country,” he said. Gadkari mentioned that while earlier it took around 2-3 hours to travel from Delhi to Meerut, it will now take only 40 minutes

An access control highway connecting Lucknow to Kanpur has also been planned, which would reduce travel time between the two cities to 40 minutes. Gadkari said that 10 projects are likely to be awarded in the next three months with an investment of Rs 4,000 crore each.


Banks may get to lend to NPA highway projects

March 8, 2016

In what may come as a major relief for the highway sector, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to allow banks and financial institutions to lend o companies even if a project turns into a non-performing asset.

Sources said the indication came during a meeting between governor Raghuram Rajan and NHAI chairman in Mumbai. The RBI governor told Chandra that the central bank has come out with a circular, clarifying that a project becoming NPA will not result in choking of fund flow and it will not translate into lenders stopping loans, sources added. “We were told hat when any investment becomes NPA, the financial institutions have to provide additional funds for this. They need to deal with such project carefully rather than stopping release of loan. They will provide us this circular,” said an NHAI official.

 A loan is classified as an NPA if a borrower fails to pay installments for 90 days. “Usually highway projects become NPA for a certain period. As toll revenue starts flowing or vehicle flow increases, the project becomes viable,” said an official.
Although Chandra also took up the issue of priority sector status for highway projects with Rajan, RBI has said that too many sectors are now seeking this status.
Source: Times Of India

All India Radio to Provide Live Traffic Updates from Nation Highways Soon

March 8, 2016

All India Radio (AIR) will soon provide live traffic updates for commuters to help them plan their journey via National Highways. The Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Pon Radhakrishnan told Lok Sabha in a written reply that the Highway Advisory service will be launched on a pilot basis soon and can also be replicated all over India.

“Highway Advisory services is going to launched shortly on a pilot basis on the stretch of National Highway 8, between Delhi and Jaipur, in three phases,” he said.

AIR stations located in Delhi, Alwar and Jaipur will broadcast the live updates in the first phase and 22 bulletins will be issued every day for three months.















Source: Wikimedia


The bulletins will include safety awareness content along with live traffic updates on NH-8, details of heavy traffic on particular spots and vehicle breakdowns on the carriageway and service lanes, if any.

This step is being taken because of an increased numbers of complaints regarding traffic jams on NH-8. The ministry will get regular traffic updates from Millennium City Expressways Private Limited (MCEPL) and air them on radio. MCEPL will monitor the expressway through CCTV cameras and patrolling vehicles. According to reports, a dry run for the broadcast has already started and the programme will be officially launched soon.

Sources: The Better India

Basic Action Plan for Traffic Air Pollution Control -by Sanjay Pardeshi

January 9, 2016

SPC Photo2

Sanjay Pardeshi


The main reasons for Air Pollutions are:

1)      Usage of too much Private Vehicles such as cars and two Wheelers.

2)      No Separate defined lanes for two wheeler & cars on all roads resulting conjunction & slow traffic. In such cases, huge exhaust from vehicles polluted city areas tremendously.

3)      No Separate left side defined red lane (as per our planning) for public buses, resulting crossing of vehicles, conjunction, traffic jam & huge pollution.

4)      Increasing of public transport buses is one of the main solutions to control private cars & two wheelers resulting less pollution & traffic jam.

However these can achieve only when we can standardize all buses, their door positions & bus stops for the same. The separate left side “Red Line” is the key requirement for these buses.

To resolve all above problems & other transport problem, I have made ‘New Road & Transport Planning of Entire India’ for safe, smooth and pollution free travel. This action plan is ready for execution with the help of 20,000 words (approx.) & 134 sketches. This action plan has been demonstrated in the world meeting of International Road Federation (IRF) held in Riyadh.

This action plan consists of 6 innovative ideas & 24 types of standardizations, because of which traffic will regularized by 70% to 80% & accidents will be reduced substantially. Means safe, smooth and pollution free travel for everyone.

These 6 innovative ideas:-

  1. Separate lane for two wheeler (almost on all roads).
  2. Parallel parking on the road for all types of vehicles including two wheeler.
  3. Red line lane at left side for Buses, Auto rickshaw & taxies i.e. for public transport vehicles.
  4. Four door standardized Bus with unidirectional traffic system (UTS). This Bus will have separate door for ladies & family to get in & out. There will be separate seats for ladies & obviously separate bus stop also.
  5. Standardization of Bus stand, front infrastructure of Bus stand & railway station.
  6. BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) :- BRT Will run from left side instead of center of the road.

Similarly there will be 24 types of standardization comprising of different types of vehicles, Bus stops, dividers, bus stand etc.


City/Village internal roads.


Buildings of ‘Chota Pariwar’.


Outer city state / high / express ways.


Bus / Electric bus


Internal city over bridges.


School bus / taxies / auto rickshaw


State / high / express way over bridges.


Small, big & share taxi.


Road over the road.


Light Commercial vehicles.


Sub way & over bridges.


Truck & trailer.


All service roads.


City bus stop & place of bus stops.


Markings on roads Signal Systems.


Road side public toilets & toilets in trains


Parking system for all vehicles.


Unidirectional traffic system (UTS) in Bus, railways & everywhere.


Zebra crossing


Intercity Bus stand & its front infrastructure.


Signal Systems


Front infrastructure of railway stations.


Internal city dividers & state / high / express way dividers


Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)


Above standardization are shown in main 190 pages action plan. Similarly animation of six new ideas is ready & can be seen on

Any city will be a “smart city” provided it should have separate lane for two wheeler. In above action plan, you will find separate two wheeler lane on almost every road. We all know that India is No. 1 in the road accidents & maximum accidents occurred are of two wheeler. At present two wheeler accident death is the highest in India & hence two wheeler should have then separate lane on the roads. All two wheeler are travel wherever they find place/gap on the road. They don’t have choice. Resulting, though we draw any international standard lane marking on roads, still we will see indiscipline traffic & it is because of non availability of proper lanes, two wheeler lanes is the requirement of the Indian transport system.

Similarly about public transport vehicles, especially for buses. We will draw separate lane for the buses on maximum roads (As shown in the action plan) which will gives cause easier travel for the ladies & children.

The next work is Bus stand & bus stop. Unless we standardized these in the entire country we cannot avoid jostling. You can see animation of these on

Similarly about BRT, school taxi, rickshaw, dividers etc. we have to think collectively & minutely on each issue, make standardizations & accordingly execute quality work which is the base of this action plan. Otherwise we will start metro like Delhi but still we find indiscipline rush at outdoor of this metro station like in Delhi.

If we really wish pollution free transportation system like in Dubai or in America, then we have to think on micro levels on all aspects, make action plan (which is ready) & execute it qualitatively without any compromise. If we compromise on each issue, then we will find BRT which are exist now. For example, in Delhi, government invest huge amount to built BRT & then incurred heavy expenses to destroy it. Means wastage of money, time & efforts.

Hence the main feature of ‘New Road & Transport Planning of Entire India’ is a new concept of building complete basic infrastructure of road & transportation system in minimal time, expenses & changes.

Please note, until we built complete basic infrastructure for road & transport, we will not get 100% result of any major projects like metro, BRT etc for road and transportation, Parking and Traffic Air pollution. In any country, first basic infrastructure gets developed as per their needs & then mega projects executed.

Hence we will help / support government people, departments & we will follow this action plan. For these, we can print / read one/two standardization in daily news paper along with sketches which will help us to understand action plan gradually. Once all standardization will be published, we will complied it, the compiled book will be our action plan.

I appeal to all of Indians to join this revolutionary action Plan to make it happen in India.


Author : Sanjay Pardeshi


Strong interest in Indian highway project

December 28, 2015

Strong interest has been reported in a major highway project in India. PNC Infratech, Sadbhav Infrastructure, Ashoka Buildcon, and APCO Infratech have all been bidding to win the Meerut-Bulandshahr highway project. This is worth some US$105 million and involves the construction of a 62km highway link. The project will be carried out under the hybrid annuity model (HAM), with the builder and Indian Government splitting the construction cost 60:40. Under the HAM model, the Indian Government also has plans for 19 more national highway projects that will involve the construction of 1,300km of highways.


Sources: World Highways

Country to Get Eight New World-class Highways

December 28, 2015

NEW DELHI: The Central Government is planning to build eight more world-class express highways in addition to already announced seven expressways.

The new expressways include Nagpur-Mumbai, Jaipur-Ajmer-Ahemadabad, Nagpur-Hyderabad, Pune-Hyderabad and Hyderabad-Bangalore.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said that all express highways are going to be world class, matching the quality and specifications in advanced nations.


Sources: The New Indian Express

Gadkari Sanctions Rs 50,560 Crore National Highways to AP

December 28, 2015

AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu explaining the progress of development works to Union Road Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari (2nd right), Union Urban Development minister M Venkaiah Naidu (right) before laying the foundation stone for Kanaka Durga flyover in Vijayawada on Saturday. Vijayawada MP Kesineni Nani is also seen | P Ravindra Babu | EPS

AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu explaining the progress of development works to Union Road Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari (2nd right), Union Urban Development minister M Venkaiah Naidu (right) before laying the foundation stone for Kanaka Durga flyover in Vijayawada on Saturday. Vijayawada MP Kesineni Nani is also seen | P Ravindra Babu | EPS

VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh will get Rs 50,560 cr worth national highways (a total of 3,092 km in length) in addition to the Rs 15,000 cr worth NH projects already under progress in the state, with an assurance of more in the coming days.

This was announced by Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari after laying the foundation stone for Kanka Durga Flyover to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 447.88 cr, along with upgradation of the Vijayawada-Machilipatnam section of NH 65, upgradation of NH 30 from Ibrahimpatnam Circle to Chandragudem and upgradation of NH 216 between Kathipudi and Kakinada.

Addressing a public gathering, Gadkari said roads are vital for development. He said when he took over the ministry, road construction was just 2 km a day which today is 18 km a day. He said that by March end he wanted it to be 30 km a day.

“In AP, Rs 15,000 cr worth projects are under progress this year and the state has many expectations from my department. I am now announcing new NH projects and it is for the state government which has to do the needed land acquisition and sumbit Detailed Project Reports. I promise to have the project online by end of December next year,” he said.

With regard to the proposed 180-km outer ring road for the new capital Amaravati, at  an estimated cost of Rs 20,000 cr, the Union minister said that the ORR would be an eight-lane, access-controlled expressway. It would be similar to the under construction expressway between Delhi and Meerut.

Expressing concern over the increasing road accidents (5 lakh a year in the country with 1.5 lakh deaths) Gadkari said the proposed new Motor Vehicle Act would revolutionise the whole system. Stating 30 per cent of the driving licences were fake, he added that the government was planning to set up driver training institutes in every assembly constituency, which would help in issuing driving licences in a foolproof manner.  Stressing  the importance of using waterways for transportation of goods and people, Gadkari said that AP had a great potential in this regard. He said already a survey works of the waterways was under progress in the state and sought the cooperation of the state government in this regard.


Thanking Gadkari for the announcement of Rs 65,000 cr worth road projects, the CM said they were beyond his expectations and added that he was very happy. Stating that handholding by the Centre was still needed as the state was yet to develop a lot, he added that he would submit a blueprint and an action plan with regard to the Amaravati ORR project to Gadkari for approval within a month and wanted the projects to be completed expeditiously. He said new roads linking Rayalaseema with the new capital would reduce the travel time. He also requested for a new road along the lengthy coast of the state and wanted it to be done in a single stretch and not in a piecemeal manner. He said it would  help in port-road connectivity and also give a boost to tourism.

Vijayawada MP Kesineni Srinivas presided over the meeting. Union Minister of State YS Chowdary, MPs, MLAs, MLCs and others were present.

Sources:  The New Indian Express



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