Railways to fix late running of trains with the help of IITs

New Delhi: The Railway Ministry will join hands with Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to find a way out to solve the problem of late running of trains. The IITs and the Railways’ engineering consultancy company Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) will identify the bottlenecks that delay trains’ timings and work out a solution to ensure the trains can run faster on the “existing infrastructure”.

The first round of meeting in this regard took up the case study of the Frontier Express (now Golden Temple Express) between Bombay (now Mumbai) and Amritsar, which used to take 40 hours before Independence while now the travel time has been reduced only by eight hours. The other exception taken, according to a top Railway official, was about the lone existing 150 kmph train between Delhi and Agra unable to augment its speed by mere 10 kmph even after several rounds of deliberations.

“Frontier now takes 32 hours. Which means in 60 years we could only adjust eight hours. Similarly, we are unable to augment the speed of Taj Express to 160 km per hour even after 10 years when the fastest train was running between Delhi and Agra. These are the things which have been examined presently. The Ministry is very serious since we are looking forward to put trains at 200 kmph before a Bullet Train runs in India,” pointed a top Railway official.

The prime concern was the fact that in the present condition, Railways has been able to meet only 74 per cent punctuality on an average per day with worst coming from the North Central Railway (NCR) and East Central Railways (ECR) at merely 34 per cent punctuality maintenance. The Zonal Railways administration have conveyed to the Railways that it is “impossible” for them to maintain the scheduled timings “in the given infrastructure” as desired.

Last month, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu was in a rude shock to know that punctuality figures used to be fudged by the officials to maintain it at 99 per cent even as complaints were galore about incessant delays of express trains including Rajdhanis and Shatabdis. The Ministry swung into action to address the complaints of late running of trains after the PMO expressed serious concern over the issue.

The PMO had sought explanation from the Railway Minister over trains running late after it received complaints by the passengers. The complaints were forwarded to the Railway Ministry and asked to follow the schedule and fix the problems so that trains were on time. Prabhu had then reacted that as the Railway Minister, it was his duty to ensure regular monitoring of punctuality of trains.

A top Railway official was made to sit twice during the last fortnight at Allahabad Junction for almost a week to examine the delays in the NCR and ECR zone. It was found that maximum number of train delays was tracked to New Delhi- Howrah route and particularly between the Patna-Mughalsarai-Allahabad section due to several asset failures like signaling, engines and track problems.

The initial report submitted to the Railway Minister says that in the event of delay of one train between on the “erratic” section, a cascading effect delays all the trains on the route. Allahabad junction also caters to trains bound to Mumbai and other Central and Southern Indian destinations besides New Delhi and beyond.