Now, officials who ‘fudge’ train status data to pay ticket refunds

New Delhi: In a new policy directive issued to zonal railways, officials found fudging data on train punctuality will now pay from their salaries if Railways has to give refunds to passengers thanks to trains being late by over three hours.

The Railway Ministry seeks to weed out the menace of “wrong reporting” of punctuality data in an attempt to paint a rosy picture of train performance in the system. The move will come into effect from June 1, sources confirmed. An order to this effect was issued this week.

As per rules, if a train reaches a station late by over three hours, or its departure is delayed by over three hours, passengers can claim a full refund without traveling. Policymakers decided that simply fudging punctuality data to show that a train is running on time does not insulate the transporter from refunds.

Officials in the traffic control offices, who physically log the running of trains and update the National Train Enquiry System (NTES) — the time-keeper for punctuality in real time; accessible to the public – have been found to be doctoring data.

Now, the Ministry order says that if a passenger gets refunds based on the NTES timings, and upon investigations it is found the data was incorrect, the money will go straight out of the pockets of the officials concerned.

The strong, and potentially unpopular decision, seeks to be a deterrent against data-fudging. Before starting the new system, Railways will hold counselling sessions for its officials and monitor operations for May.