New Delhi: Indian Railways, which on Wednesday shocked passengers with plans to raise basic fares on the Rajdhani and other superfast trains by as much as 235% in a surge pricing model, has also reported an improvement in the overall punctuality rate after improvisation on the Ghaziabad-Mughalsarai route, with mail and express trains improving their performance by over four per cent to clock 80.83 per cent punctuality during April-August.
Overall, the punctuality rate of the Railways increased to 82.09 per cent in August from 81.62 per cent in the corresponding month last year.
Punctuality of mail / express trains during April-August this year was 80.83 per cent against 76.66 per cent in the corresponding period last year, an increase of 4.17 per cent.
The punctuality of local trains between April and August this year was 77.45 per cent against 73.99 per cent in the same month in 2015.
The railway ministry attributed the improved performance to a series of steps being taken for improvement in the 761-km-long Ghaziabad-Mughalsarai route.
Punctuality of mail / express trains, particularly those traversing through quadrilateral routes such as Delhi-Howrah, Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai and Howrah-Mumbai corridors have been adversely impacted as these sectors are facing severe capacity constraint due to saturated line capacity.
These routes are also increasingly being used for freight traffic, including transport of raw materials, coal for power generation plants, petroleum products, food grains, fertiliser, steel and export oriented container traffic.
The ministry, in fact, created a ‘mobility directorate’ to improve punctuality in passenger service and speed up freight movement.
The busy Ghaziabad-Mughalsarai corridor, which includes the Allahabad junction that caters to the movement of 120 trains in a day, and runs services to key railway stations, including Aligarh, Moradabad, Tundla, Bareilly, Etawah, Kanpur Central, Lucknow, Mirzapur and Varanasi.
Railways managed to avoid technical glitches like engine and traction failures by judicious use of assets to decongest movement of trains along the over-saturated route, officials pointed out.
While these measures helped to control external factors affecting punctuality, Railways also managed to keep assets in shape to avoid internal glitches.
Other than asset failures, various constraints /difficulties, such as line capacity constraints on account of increasing passenger and freight traffic, adverse weather conditions (fog, rains, breaches), intermittent natural calamities such as floods, cyclones, heavy rains; heavy road traffic at level crossing gates across the rail network also adversely affect punctuality of trains.
Law and order problems, including public agitations and bandh calls in left wing extremism-affected areas, miscreant activities such as theft of railway assets, mid-section run over cases involving cattle and humans also cause delays in train operation.