NEW DELHI: Indian Railways is considered to be one of the world’s largest railway networks but trains running late has been a common scenario across the country. In a report tabled in the Parliament early this week, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India came down heavily on the railways for focusing primarily on improving passenger facilities and façade of stations.
The CAG has advised the railways to address infrastructural constraints for timely movement of trains. The central authority explained how unavailability of paths and absence of enough platforms to handle trains are the main reasons for their detention at preceding stations or at outer signals.
The report was drawn after a month of audit about deficient infrastructure and detention of trains at 15 railway stations (Patna, Mughalsarai, New Delhi, Delhi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Mathura, Howrah, Jaipur, Bhopal, Itarsi, Ahmedabad, Vijayawada, Chennai Central and Nagpur) that fall under 10 zonal routes and recorded heavy passenger traffic. Travellers, the report states, would like to spend minimum time on stations and their key concern was to complete the journey in the minimum time possible.
Citing an example of Mathura junction, CAG claimed that the station, which has 10 platforms, can only handle 24 coach trains on five. In a day, the station sees around 190 trains. But due to inadequate length of platforms, trains with higher coach capacity are stopped at platforms with lesser capacity resulting in inconvenience to passengers in boarding and de-boarding trains. The trains originating from Mathura station also start late due to lack of clear paths. On an average, the junction reported 2.9 hour of detention for through trains (passing via Mathura). For those originating in Mathura, the detention time ranged up to 5.25 hour.
Divisional Commercial Manager of Agra Division, Sanchit Tyagi, said, “We will look into the recommendations of CAG. We are trying our best to maintain train punctuality with the available resources at hand.”
The CAG also found that in these 15 stations, which handled 2,649 trains, platforms, washing and stabling lines were not big enough.The central body has asked the railways to prepare a comprehensive master plan for all important stations to improve timely movement of trains.