Despite large-scale works underway, only a 10% drop in timelines of trains as compared to last year: says NR Officials

NEW DELHI: Days after being reprimanded by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and drawing serious flak over the declining punctuality of trains, the Northern Railways (NR) now tried to clarify that despite large-scale works underway in the zone, there was only a 10-per cent drop in the timelines of trains as compared to last year.

At a press conference, Vishwesh Chaube, General Manager (GM), NR, said as of June 8, 2017, the punctuality rate in the zone was 63 per cent, adding that on June 8, 2018, it had declined to 53 per cent. “The punctuality of trains is now being recorded through data-loggers whereas, earlier it was done manually.

Now, even if a train is late by a minute, it is counted as a train arriving late. This has made a difference in the punctuality figures of this year. Also, despite a lot of work going on, there is only a 10-per cent drop in the punctuality rate,” he said.

Chaube added that while the number of trains in the zone had increased from 1,300 in 2008 to 1,800 in 2018, the infrastructure had not grown at the same pace. “So, capacity building is essential. The yards do not have the capacity to handle so many trains,” he said. The Northern Railways had taken measures to ensure punctuality of trains, including monitoring of the delayed trains at every station by the station directors, Chaube added.

A reduction in engineer restrictions, ensuring that the loco pilots ran at the maximum permissible speeds and an intensive exercise to reduce the speed restrictions had also helped curb the delays, he said, adding that in April, the punctuality rate of trains in the zone was 49 per cent, it grew to 50 per cent in May and in June, it was 53 per cent. The NR data also showed the zone had taken 141 mega blocks (six-seven hours each) for maintenance work in 2017-2018 and 25 till May this year. It had also completed 152 km of track-doubling and 545 km of track renewal in 2017-2018.

On May 30, Goyal had warned the heads of the zonal railways that delays in train services would defer their appraisal proportionately and given them a month (till June 30) to improve the punctuality of trains. Sources present at the meeting said Chaube had to face Goyal’s wrath with the NR zone recording an abysmal 49.59-per cent punctuality performance till May 29, a 32.74-per cent dip compared to the same period last year.

Northern Railways To Monitor Cleanliness In Trains Using WhatsApp Groups

The Northern Railways will now monitor cleanliness of its trains using WhatsApp groups supervised by senior officials.

Every department, be it pantry or bed rolls, will have separate WhatsApp groups, in which status report of cleanliness will be uploaded on a daily basis.

“WhatsApp groups have been created for train and pantry cleanliness, bed rolls and functionality of air conditioners in trains. Photographs are being uploaded in these groups for monitoring by senior officials,” Northern Railway general manager Vishwesh Chaube said.

The zone will also soon commission an automatic coach washing plant at the Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station that can wash a 24-coach train thoroughly in under eight minutes.

The plant, which is currently undergoing trials at the station, is being set up by the Northern Railways at a cost of Rs 1.6 crore, he said.

The automatic plant will consume around 240 litres of water to wash a coach as against 1,500 litres required in manual washing, Chaube said, adding that the unit will use 20 per cent fresh water and 80 per cent recycled water.

The plant can wash 250 coaches per day, he said.

The coaches will be cleaned using vacuum cleaners, scrubbers and jet cleaning machines. Branded chemicals will be used instead of phenyl, and perfume and mosquito repellents will also be used, Chaube said.

“OBHS (on board housekeeping staff) is uploading time-stamped pictures on WhatsApp groups for monitoring,” he added.

Chaube said under Project Utkrisht, eight trains having 16 rakes would be upgraded by the end of 2018-2019. These coaches would have anti-graffiti exterior paints, state-of-the-art toilet fittings and odour control system, among others.

To keep the station area and tracks clean, 4,415 bio-toilets have been fitted in coaches in 2017-2018 against a target of 4,000 and 6,000 more will be fitted in 2018-2019 to cover all NR coaches, he added.

There is a target of installing CCTVs in 340 coaches – 265 in Delhi and 75 in Ferozpur divisions — for online monitoring of cleanliness and safety, the GM said.

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