Saturday, June 14, 2014


The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

20,000 elephants killed for ivory in Africa

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GENEVA (Reuters) – More than 20,000 African elephants were killed for their ivory in 2013, driven by demand in China and Thailand, and some local populations face an immediate threat of extinction, a U.N.-linked wildlife conservation agency said on Friday.
Criminal gangs and rebel militias hunt dwindling herds for tusks that fetch many thousands of dollars per kilo, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species said.
“Today we are confronting a situation of industrial-scale poaching and smuggling, the involvement of organised transnational criminal organisations, the involvement of rebel militia,” CITES secretary-general John Scanlon told a briefing.
Fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) were sanctioned by the Security Council this year for illegal hunting and ivory trade, particularly in central Africa, he said.
The 2013 estimated figure is less than the peak of 25,000 elephants poached in 2011. But it was the third straight year that more than 20,000 were killed illegally on the continent that has an estimated 500,000 elephants left, according to CITES which monitors 51 sites, including national parks.
“It (poaching) is levelling off, but at a level that is far too high. The number of elephants that are killed is far exceeding the number of elephants being born,” Scanlon said.
Large seizures of smuggled ivory in Africa, those over 500 kilos, rose in 2013, for the first time exceeding those in Asia, according to CITES. Its 1975 pact to ban or restrict trade in endangered species has been ratified by 180 countries.
A record 40,000 kilos were confiscated last year, already exceeded by an estimated 55,000 kilos seized this year, it said.
This was due to better enforcement especially in Tanzania and Uganda, which accounted for 80 percent of thelarge-scale seizures in Africa last year, Scanlon said.
“We need to deploy the same sort of techniques that are deployed to combat other serious crimes such as illicit trade in narcotics, human trafficking or illicit trade in arms,” he said.
Rangers, customs officials and prosecutors must tackle poaching, driven by speculators betting on extinction, he said.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Cloud Based Web Solution for Automatic Rail Monitoring


Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by OEM Technology Solutions

OEM Cloud Cover
Australia's OEM Technology Solutions is offering cloud based web monitoring to streamline rail asset use and incident management, potentially offering huge savings to rail operators worldwide.
OEM's equipment powers more than 20,000 rail car systems in more than 20 countries. It says the introduction of real time monitoring will have far reaching ramifications.
OEM managing director Richard Gobee said: "By providing remote, real time, at-a-glance access to all critical train data such as location, speed, equipment status and other information, we have enabled operators to improve their operations, safety, efficiency and their bottom line."
The system is based on OEM's proven PC3 Series Controller into which has been integrated the company's new IO3640 Communications module which has GPS and 3G capability, enabling information to be transmitted via an Etherios Device Connector.
Using Device Cloud by Etherios, a platform-as-a-service that provides two-way communication between any device and the cloud, the various OEM connected train systems constantly stream their status via the Web without human intervention.
Mr Gobee said that the new OEM product would allow these customers to implement a connected rail solution to decrease downtime by pre-emptive maintenance.
Mr Gobee said: "The customers who have seen the system are very excited."
The cloud solution is a generational development of an OEM Technology Solutions system that has for some time enabled OEM products wirelessly so rail operators could gather information remotely by querying on-board systems on trains.
But the operators had to query individual systems. With the web-based solution the systems are reporting automatically and an operator only has to look at the screen to see which are working within their operational parameters and any that are flagged as being outside those parameters, indicating they will need attention when next the unit is in for scheduled maintenance.
OEM Technology Solutions' offerings include wireless monitoring and control systems for essential subsystems such as video surveillance, passenger information, driver advice, speed measurement, air conditioning, fire detection, door control and lighting. Etherios is a division of Minnesota based, Digi International, with whom OEM has had a 20-year relationship.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Some Sweet Memories of M2 or Canadian Loco Fan

A beautifully written piece full of nostalgia for that Great Lady: the Udarata Menike.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/64/Udarate_Menike_train_on_the_Colombo-Badulla_route.JPG/180px-Udarate_Menike_train_on_the_Colombo-Badulla_route.JPGAn M2 hauls the Udarata Menike

The blue M2 Canadian diesel locomotives that came into service starting 1954 powered the Udarata Menike, Yal Devi, Ruhunu Kumar and the Podi Manike (the Nan Oya Express). At that time we lived at the end of Ramakrishna Road with only the approach road separating us from the railway line. Little as I was, I remembered the Ruhunu Kumari, (the Matara Express) roaring past us in the morning. Later I would watch her out of my class window in Miss Dwight’s Standard II class at St Thomas’ Prep School.

Sl train.jpgM2 # 570 Alberta which hauls Yal Devi to Kankasanthurai.

The M2 manufactured by Canadian General Electric was so successful in then Ceylon, that when the purchase of another batch of diesel locomotives was being considered in the 1960s the contract went to the Canadians again. This time MLW, the Montreal Locomotive Works, who supplied the M4 commencing 1975; another set of blue Canadian diesels!

Class M4 MLW - Alco Bombardier -- 745 arriving at Aluthgama, Sri Lanka.jpgClass M4 No. 745Ruwanweli



THE CANADIAN CONNECTION
 My Dad was on Carolina Group, Watawala for 27 years, and  before he retired, he planted in Bandarawela for four years. Carolina was a huge estate of 2230 acres. By a topographical twist of fate, the railway line from Colombo to Badulla went through one of the divisions of Carolina called Mt.Jean. In fact the Watawala railway station was located on Mt.Jean division! Our bungalow on Kadawella division was some distance away from the railway track, but each day around1.30 pm. we could hear the sound of the horn and the throbbing hum of the diesel locomotive as the "Menike" slided on ribbons of steel on her onward journey uphill amidst spectacular landscape on the way to Badulla. The blast of the horn would echo through the green hills and in the solitude of an estate bungalow it was a reassuring sound.

When the "Udarata Menike" was first introduced in 1954 it was powered by two British diesel locomotives. Before this, the train to Badulla was hauled by two steam engines which meant getting flecks of coal in one's eye, when looking out of the window ! And with the puffs of smoke blowing all over, the journey was not very pleasant. The introduction of diesel changed all that. A new set of carriages were hitched onto the diesel locomotives on her maiden run, and thats how it remained as long as I remember. The icing on the cake was the gift of twelve Canadian diesel locomotives under the Colombo Plan in the late 50's  - an outright gift from the Canadian government under the premiership of Pierre Trudeau. These diesels were a joy to behold, and I still remember the names of some of them, on either side of the locomotive gleaming in silver and blue. They were "Alberta" "Montreal" "Sasketchwan" "Prince Edward Island" "Vancouver" "Manitoba" "Toronto" and "Ontario". Out went the British locomotives  - at least on the up-country run, and in came one Canadian diesel to take their place. I later picked up some trivia about the Canadian locomotives. The distances they covered in Canada were at times over a thousand miles, and apparently the distance from Colombo to Badulla was insufficient for such high powered diesels of 2500 horse power. So after the "Menike" reached Badulla around6.20 pm each evening, the locomotive had to be kept running for some hours after that, even though the journey had ended ! Apparently, one locomotive could provide electricity for an entire town ! After Dad went to Bandarawela, I used to travel by the "Udarata Menike" several times whenever I came to Colombo, and the return journey was one which I always anticipated with joy. It was not the train per se, but the incredible journey and the terrain of the track.

In the the low country from Colombo to Rambukkana it was a smooth run. But once the train reached Kadugannawa the climb began, and if you sat on the right and dared to look out of the window when the train skirted the ridge called "Sensation Rock" you risked a nervous breakdown because a thousand feet below, you could see the roofs of thatched village houses and expanses of paddy fields  - all in minature. There was no protective barrier along this length of track and the train was travelling on the edge of a sheer precipice ! Once this nerve shattering climb was negotiated, the terrain evened out to a level run upto Nawalapitiya. It was past Nawalapitiya that the real torturous climb began all the way to Nanuoya and from there to a spot on the track between Ambawela and Pattipola which is the highest point on the railway. After this it was 'downhill' all the way in the plains of Uva to the terminus at Badulla. On one of these trips I happened to be in the compartment up front behind the locomotive, and a very friendly guard took me into his section of the compartment from where I could see the driver in his cabin and observe this Canadian powerhorse in action. I was introduced to the driver, Mr.Wadugodapitiya an old Trinitian, and a senior driver in the Ceylon Government Railways. It was he who gave me the trivia I quoted earlier on the Canadian diesels.

I have done many trips by train in other countries and can tell you that the trip from Colombo to Badulla should be classed as one of the great train journeys of the world. Apart from the spectacular scenery through which the track goes through, specially in the hill country, just consider the near impossible gradient which the train traverses.......In fact there is a place called for some unknown reason, "Soda Bottle" bend on the line between Kotagala and Great Western which is an engineering marvel. So steep is the gradient that at a certain point on looking out of the window if one is seated on the right side of the train, one can see the railway track in two tiers below -   a graphic indication of the height the traveller has just passed through. And then there is the engineering masterpiece of the Demodera loop ! Once the train leaves Demodera station (two halts before Badulla) it goes full circle and at one stage passes right under the station which it has just left, on its way to Badulla ! Imagine leaving a station and then after about five minutes looking out of the window - or rather, looking up  - to find the station you just left is right above you !! Talk about the realms of fantasy ! It is a matter of regret that the name of the engineer who devised this masterpiece has not been recorded for posterity. On the return trip past Nanuoya, one gets a clear view of Adam's Peak in the distance - weather permitting -  until one reaches Talawakelle.  At Nanuoya - and this is addressed to old Anthonians in particular  - there is a little hill near the station, with a neat little bungalow on its summit. This was the home of Freddy, Paddy, Gerry, and Merry Guneratne when their Dad Alec Guneratne  - an old Anthonian and legendary soccer star of a bygone era - was stationed in Nanuoya during his service with the Ceylon Government Railways. I once walked with Royston and Basil Hyde from their home on Scrubbs Estate, Nuwaraeliya to the Guneratne home at Nanuoya  - a distance of four miles. We were entertained with cordon bleu home made delicacies by Paddy's Mum   - it is still a warm memory that never fades and sparks nostalgia for a happy time and place...... But I digress, so I had better get back on track........ 

From Ohiya station upto Haputale the track seems to defy gravity ! It is cut on the side of a mountain and runs at the edge of a precipice with heart stopping views of the little villages far down below. It is a hair raising experience which I term as death defying ! You have to sit on the left of the compartment to get your hair standing on all ends ! If you wish to play it safe, just sit on the right and all you will see is the side of a cliff. But the scenery which greets the traveller will live in memory forever. A panorama of deep valleys, green hills and lush countryside where nature has run riot with her paintbrush painting the land in colours of every hue......This kaladescope of nature's bounty penetrates your very soul to inspire and nurture the spirit........It is a photographer's delight and an artists paradise........and the bracing mountair air gives one a near supernatural sense of well being. The scenery on this entire journey is a nature lover's delight. From the lush hills on the Kadugannawa climb right upto Nawalapitiya, and then the beautiful tea country all the way to Nanuoya.

There were no luxury compartments. There was 1st, 2nd and 3rd class, and an excellent Restaurant Car staffed by uniformed waiters. The catering was done by U.K.Edmund.  For Rs.1.50 you could enjoy a delicious rice and curry and the tea was the nectar of the Gods. There was no Observation Car.

I think today the "Menike" is powered by a German Henschel locomotive and has some Rumanian compartments. In my humble opinion the Henschel diesel does not in any way, shape or form look as sleek, majestic and inspiring as her Canadian counterpart. During my last visit to Sri Lanka in 2000, I was pleased to see some of the Canadian locomotives still riding the rails. On a trip from Haputale to Colombo in the "Udarata Menike" we crossed the "Podi Menike" the younger sister of the "Udarata Menike" which I observed was hauled by a Canadian diesel locomotive, "Montreal". With that I shall conclude this email. But the "Menike" - 'The Maid of the Mountains' or, as I prefer to call her 'The Maid of the Mists', will forever travel the corners of our minds in the realms of memory on a journey that has no end...

Bernard VanCuylenburg. 

Bernard turned 70 on the 25th February.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


http://www.railway-technology.com/

UK forms new rail industry supply chain forum

5 November 2013

iep
The UK Government has formed a new rail industry supply chain forum to bring together the Department for Transport (DfT), the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and industry stakeholders, to develop a strategy to enhance the country's rail industry.
The new forum will encourage the expansion of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the rail industry, as well as assisting the government in building and understanding supply chain capability.
The forum will also help the UK Government, execute projects such as Crossrail and the HS2 project.
"These new faster trains will help stimulate economic growth by improving connections between our major cities."
Intercity Express Programme (IEP) trains will start operating to Wales and the south west by 2017, and along the east coast a year later.
UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "They will slash journey times, boost capacity to many of our cities in the south-west and up the east coast to Scotland."
"Like our plans for a national high-speed rail network, these new faster trains will help stimulate economic growth by improving connections between our major cities."

Image: Intercity Express Programme (IEP) trains will start operating to Wales and the south-west by 2017. Photo: courtesy of Gov.UK

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Modern tech to optimise train movement

Tireless efforts of R and D officer will hopefully end delays
View(s): 240

With Android phones being fixed to engines, the woes of train commuters whose common complaint is delays, will soon be eased.
To be tried out initially on the coastline between Colombo Fort and Matara starting next month (November), the ‘Train traffic optimisation system’ has become a reality due to the tireless efforts of Research and Development Officer Anura Pushpakumara Kasthoori (46) of the Department of Railways.
The new system will initially be launched on the coastline between Colombo Fort and Matara. Pic by Hasitha Kulasekera
Explaining that train travel has been riddled with numerous issues due to time-tables not being drawn up in a scientific manner and routine errors, as real-time data are not being used, Mr. Kasthoori who had been tasked with studying the issues has now come up with a solution.
With a train considered “a moving robot”, his solution is for the Android operating system programmed device in the engine room to relay real-time data through GPS (global positioning system) and GPRS (global positioning receiving subsystem) to a central server at the Telecom internal data centre in Colombo Fort.
With the data thus relayed from the Coast Line being studied and analysed for six months, the Railway Department would be able to come up with a master time-table. Thereafter, a Google map will show officers at the Maradana Train Control Office, the trains travelling along their tracks, what speed they are travelling at and whether there are delays, points out Mr. Kasthoori.
According to his vision, under this three-year project, LED screens could display the electronic time-table and people may even be able to get train arrival and departure times on their mobiles so that they could adjust their work schedules accordingly without kicking their heels at railway stations and cursing the department.
“The full benefits will be reaped only after about two years,” assures Mr. Kasthoori, adding that the study of real-time data and train dynamics would help in the time-table being adjusted with an added benefit being accident reduction as driver-to-control room and also driver-to-driver communication being easy.
Under the current system, train times cannot be predicted, he explains, pointing out that there are three “different” operations for networking. They are:
• The Centralised Traffic Controlling (CTC) system under which the Control Office in Maradana uses signals and colour lights to allow trains to proceed or to halt them. This system works on the Maradana-Pallewela, Maradana-Wadduwa and Maradana-Negombo lines.
All aboard: The brains behind the Train traffic optimisation system Anura Pushpakumara Kasthoori (left) with an engine driver. Pic by Reka Tharangani
• Under the Local Operating System, once again colour lights and signals are used by the Train Controller at a particular spot after getting the required information over the phone from the relevant Station Master
• Under the Tablet System which is electrically controlled, only one train is allowed per block. Although considered a very safe system, it has become obsolete across the world and been replaced by computers.
The ‘Train traffic optimisation system’ which is now on the cards and is part of the ‘Railway Management System’ had been mooted by Mr. Kasthoori as a research proposal he submitted last year (2012) to the National Research Council (NRC) under the Science and Research Ministry, which is directed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“This is my M.Phil research project at the School of Computing of the Colombo University,” he says, adding with humility that it was selected as one of the best and awarded Rs. 2.5 million by the NRC. While he has been guided by his M.Phil supervisor, the very experienced Dr. Kasun de Soyza, on the side of the Railway Department there has been much support from General Manager B.A.P. Ariyaratne, Additional General Manager (Technical) S.M. Abyewickrema, Deputy Mechanical Engineer (Projects & Development) A.D. Wickremasinghe and Chief Superintendent of the Railway Stores, S.M. Nirmala Ganasinghe.
The project came somewhat naturally to Mr. Kasthoori because he knows the Railway like the back of his hand, having joined the department in 1992 as a locomotive driver. Be it the Northern Line, the Main Line up to Badulla, the Colombo-Kandy line, the Maho-Trincomalee line, the Gal-Oya-Batticaloa line, the Kandy-Matale line, the Coast Line up to Matara or the Kelani Valley line up to Avissawella, he has travelled them all, manning a train engine.
It was in his precious free time that he followed a degree in IT and Computer Science at the Colombo University’s School of Computing.
With his IT knowledge coming in handy, when he was studying the current system that he realized that the shortcomings impeded an increase in track capacity. When giving information over the phone, human error crept in causing not only delays but also congestion, he says.
This is why he has come up with a system to mitigate these shortcomings with the objectives of increasing track capacity, proper implementation of train routes and a time-table based on real-time data.
An automated train controlling system without human intervention as followed in the developed world is Mr. Kasthoori’s dream for Sri Lanka.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Industrial Design and Fabrication - Rail Car Cleaning Systems

Based in Stockton, California, Industrial Design and Fabrication (IDF) specializes in the design and manufacture of custom equipment for use in the rail car cleaning industry. With over thirty years of combined experience, the owners of IDF have been responsible for the development, construction and support of both mobile and stationary types of rail car cleaning equipment.
IDF can design and fabricate a rail car cleaning system to meet the most demanding requirements of the rail car industry. With modular construction, systems can be built to clean from one to 100 rail cars a day.

SELF CONTAINED RAIL CAR CLEANING MODULES

Each of the main modules of an IDF system is equipped with all of the components required for the tank cleaning process, i.e. tanks, pumps, heat exchangers, etc. Modules are pre-wired and pre-plumbed at the factory, making installation much easier than a build-in-place system. In addition, the entire top surfaces of the modules are covered with bar-grating and surrounded by hand rails, as per OSHA specifications, to provide an elevated work platform. The addition of staircases and roll out gangways provide the operator with safe and easy access to the tops of the rail cars being cleaned.

INCREASING CAR CLEANING CAPACITY

Multiple modules can be interconnected to increase car-cleaning capacity. For added flexibility, elevated work platforms and catwalks can be supplied to provide multiple cleaning stations for single or multiple modules.
Additionally, cleaning modules can be remotely located, and plumbed to existing catwalks and work platforms, allowing installations based around existing facilities and track layouts. The powerful closed loop washing system incorporated into each module makes these systems suited for cleaning railcars that carry a wide variety of commodities, while conserving cleaning solutions and water.

MANUAL OR ELECTRICALLY CONTROLLED VALVES

Systems can be equipped with either all-manual valves or, for added convenience, valves can be pneumatically actuated and electrically controlled from the operator's control station. Heating for the wash solution is provided by an ASME coded tube and a shell heat exchanger, which uses steam as the medium of heating. Process tanks are equipped with fixed weir rings to allow oils and other light phase materials to be removed for disposal.
As with all of Industrial Design and Fabrication’s products these systems are designed and constructed to provide the customer with a high quality machine that is easy to use and will provide years of trouble free operation.

Contact Details


Industrial Design and Fabrication, Inc.
PO Box 268
Stockton
California
United States of America
Tel: +1 209 937 9128
Fax: +1 209 948 6558
Email: sales@idf-mfg.com
URL: idf-mfg.com 
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Saturday, April 27, 2013



Indian built Northern railway line on track

 

article_image
The Indian-built Northern railway line is on schedule, officials said. A trial run was conducted on the completed new railway track between Medawachchiya and Madhu Road, covering a distance of 43 kms recently.

The reconstructed track is a 43 km long segment in the prestigious Northern Railway Line projects, comprising a 252 km route length, which is being executed by Ircon International Limited, a government company under the Ministry of Railways India. The project is funded by the Government of India, under the Indian Line of Credit. "This segment is now dedicated to the public of Sri Lanka and has been completed well within the scheduled completion date", said S L Gupta, General Manager of Ircon International Limited.

The reconstructed railway track is designed with a speed potential of 120kmph. Rail joints are minimized using the latest modern welding technology. Pre-stressed concrete sleepers have been used to lay the track, instead of traditional wooden sleepers to ensure durable and stronger tracks, simultaneously helping to preserve the environment. CMS (Cast Manganese Steel) crossings with standard turnouts, long welded rails with switch expansion joints, panel interlocking, flash butt welding, etc. have been incorporated to provide a long lasting track, with minimal maintenance effort.

"For the execution of the project, local manpower and agencies have been deployed in order to generate local employment as well as for purposes of skills development", said Gupta.

The railway tracks from Omanthai to Kankesanthurai and Medawachchiya to Talaimannar were completely destroyed during the devastating civil war. The Government of India has extended its support to the Government of Sri Lanka to rebuild the 252 km route length track under the 800 Million US$ lines of credit. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in 5 phases and all segments of the project are progressing well according to schedule", said Gupta. MPLN Peiris, Project Director of Sri Lanka Railway, M P De Silva, Team Leader of CECB and S L Gupta, General Manager of Ircon International Limited, undertook the trial run on 23-04-2013. Other officers from Sri Lanka Railway, CECB and Ircon also participated in the trial run. The trial run commenced from Medawachchiya station and ended at the newly constructed Madhu Road Station.

"The trial run was successful and comfortable and we are very pleased that this phase of the project has been completed", said Gupta.