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“Window Seat Project” : This Instagram page captures the nostalgia of Train Travel in India

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Instagram, Pixabay

New Delhi, April 24, 2017: Indian Railways — one of the world’s largest railway systems that runs over 12,500 trains every day — is more than just the country’s transport lifeline. For the 23 million passengers who use it daily, it is almost a way of life — with a unique charm and special rhythm of its own.

Capturing the nostalgia associated with the train travel in India is a crowd-sourced community page on Instagram titled “Window Seat Project” which has been ruling the social media platform for quite some time now. The pictures and their catchy captions will convince you to start travelling by train once again.

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With more than 20,000 followers and 654 posts, the community page is a melange of emotions and scenarios, from the endless sea to lush forests and woods, from food vendors to passengers and from railway platforms to the interiors of the train — all captured through the camera. Some of these exquisite pictures are in monochrome while others are in colour.

The story of the Window Seat Project started a few years ago when Shanu Babar (whose brain child the community is) began it as a hobby that gradually turned into something he started caring more about.

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“And now, it has become my reality,” Babar exclaimed in an email on the move, while travelling from Mumbai to various places in Rajasthan — by train, of course.

A graduate from Pune’s Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Babar is a cinematographer based in Mumbai. He has been associated with multiple television shows like “MasterChef India” and “The Voice and Taste Down Under”, to name a few.

But he soon realised that the monotony of sitting and editing had begun to suffocate him and, therefore, he started the “Window Seat Project” as a getaway from his humdrum routine.

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Babar had to submit a dissertation as a part of his course. Along with his classmates he went off on a train journey from Pune to Kanyakumari asking a variety of passengers just one question: “What kind of India do you see from the window seat?”

“I realised that I was not the only crazy person who loved trains; there are thousands of them out there. And it is because of them the page has flourished,” Babar added.

Babar finds Indian Railways “a mixed bag of a plethora of expressions, emotions and cultures”, something worth exploring. He finds a story in every passenger and likes to take these stories — captured in frames clicked from different angles — to the world through his community.

“Trains are like the veins of this country, they are a platform to enter people’s lives. Every passenger is a story. They come from so many different walks of life. Railways give you a wholesome experience, not only in terms of languages and ethnicities but also food and so much more,” he added.

So, how does he select the best picture in a day for the Window Seat Project?

“There is no process as such. The pictures have to be about trains, of course. But the primary criterion is that the pictures should speak for themselves. They should be relatable. Almost everybody has travelled by a train at some point of time in their lives. The pictures should make them relive those nostalgic moments,” he responded.

Despite much popularity on the social media platform, Babar said that Indian Railways probably has no clue about the page. But that does not disappoint him.

“I have not been approached by them but I would surely love to work with the Railways. There are so many railway publications that need pictures, so many new trains that have started that need to be featured. I would love to be the one covering them. It would be like a fan working with his superstar,” Babar quipped.

Planning a railway journey soon? Don’t forget to take a picture and share it on Instagram with the hashtag “windowseatproject”. Till then, keep clicking and happy journey. (IANS)

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Will India be able to travel in the Bullet Train Soon? Yes, Say Railway Officials; Indian Railways Target Completing the Project Before the August 2022 Deadline

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14

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Bullet Train
Railway Board Chairman held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, and Niti Aayog Vice Chairman. (representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : Unfazed by opposition criticism, Indian Railways is working overtime to push ahead with the much-talked about the “Bullet Train” project, aiming to complete it ahead of the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, who has a reputation of a turnaround man, has taken up the task of monitoring and chairing the periodic review meetings of the project that is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore ($15 billion).

Lohani held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Central government officials, Principal Secretary-rank officials of Gujarat and Maharashtra, officials of NHSRCL (National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited), officials of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the General Manager of Western Railway.

A senior railway board member, requesting anonymity, told IANS, “The railways is in no mood to delay the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project. Lohani will now hold a review meeting once every three months… And even on weekly basis, if required.”

Emphasising on the government’s intention, the official said, “The attendance of the Niti Aayog Vice Chairman, the Japanese Ambassador and the CRB in the review meeting is a clear signal that the government is taking the project seriously and there is no scope for any delay.”

“The CRB wants Indian Railway officials to take lessons from their Japanese counterparts about meeting deadlines,” he said.

The opposition has attacked the government for taking up a project at a huge cost instead of focusing on safety, a dire need of the time, and on schemes to improve passenger amenities.

The official said it was also decided at the meeting that “a road map for consultancy and civil engineering works will be prepared by January 2018”.

A ministry official associated with the Bullet Train project said a report on the signalling system and electrical reports would be ready by April 2018. According to him, the tracks and most of the signalling system would be brought from Japan.

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14.

Of the Rs 1.08 lakh crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent for 50 years. And the repayment will begin only after 15 years.

The railway official said that to encourage the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme, “an appeal will be made to Indian and Japanese companies to make use the opportunity to work together”.

Meanwhile, the officials of the government of Maharashtra and Gujarat assured the railways of their help in land acquisition and smooth shifting of raw materials to construction venues.

A three-level monitoring committee was also constituted, including the Vice Chairman of Niti Ayog and Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister.

A working group led by Managing Director of NHSRCL Achal Khare and consisting of representatives of the ministries concerned, and the representative of JICA, has been formed. Besides the two committees, a technical expert committee led by the Managing Director of NHSRCL has also been formed.

Of the 508 km stretch, 92 per cent (468 km) of the route will be elevated, six per cent (27 km) will be in tunnels and the remaining two per cent (13 km) will be on the ground .

The high-speed train would also pass through the country’s longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under the sea.

Twelve stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.

The distance will be covered in two hours and seven minutes if the train stops at four stations — Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai. If the train stops at all 12 stations, it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

According to Railway Ministry officials, the operating speed of the bullet train would be 320 kmph and the maximum speed would be 350 kmph.

 

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Anand K. Singh and was first published by IANS. Anand can be contacted at can be contacted at anand.s@ians.in)

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Facebook reports $4.7 bn profit, 2.07 bn monthly users in Q3

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Facebook
Source: Wikimedia Common

San Francisco,November 2,2017:  With 1.37 billion daily active users and 2.07 billion monthly active users, Facebook again topped expectations when it reported 79 per cent increase in its quarterly profit and nearly 50 per cent rise in revenues in the third quarter.

With apparently no influence of the ongoing hearing regarding its role in Russia meddling, Facebook late on Wednesday published its financial results for the quarter that ended on September 30, reporting that its profitability hit $4.7 billion mark and earned $10.3 billion in revenue compared to an estimate of $9.84 billion.

 “Our business is doing well,” company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don’t bring people closer together.

“We are serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We are investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximising our profits,” he said.

Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 88 per cent of advertising revenue for the third quarter of 2017, up from approximately 84 per cent of advertising revenue in the third quarter of 2016.

The average revenue per daily active user reached $7.51 compared to $5.95 a year ago showing a 26 per cent increase.

That is due to a 16 per cent growth in its daily active users over the year and 3.8 per cent increase quarter-over-quarter touching 1.37 billion mark.

Facebook now has 2.07 billion monthly active users — an increase of 16 per cent year-over-year. The growth is 3.19 per cent compared to last quarter’s 2.006 billion and it grew at 3.4 per cent.

According to Tech Crunch, Facebook’s share price closed at $182.66 prior to the earnings announcement and climbed 1.28 per cent in after-hours trading.

Facebook CFO David Wehner said Facebook will boost its expenses 45-60 per cent in 2018 in order to fund security efforts following the Russian intrusion as well as in furthering original video content, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

The company said it would hire 10,000 people to monitor content and ads, though some will be contractors. It plans to double its security engineering work force.

As of September 30, the headcount at Facebook was 23,165 — an increase of 47 per cent year-over-year.

Zuckerberg also said that Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status both now have 300 million daily active users — up from 250 million in June (Instagram) and July (WhatsApp).

–IANS

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Over Rs 50,000 Crore Spent on Rail Safety till August 31

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Indian Railway
A Passenger Train in India. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 24: The government on Tuesday said it has spent over Rs 50,000 crore out of a total outlay of Rs 1.31 lakh crore on rail safety in this fiscal.

The government has planned a capital expenditure outlay of Rs 131,000 crore for railway safety in 2017-18, of which it spent Rs 50,762 crore till August 31, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa told reporters after a Union Cabinet meeting.

The government in its Budget this year announced a special safety fund of Rs 1.31 lakh crore for Indian Railways.

Lavasa said the pace of laying new railway tracks had been hastened from 380 km in 2014-15 to 953 km in 2016-17. (IANS)