NEW DELHI: In what should come as a relief to railway passengers driven to despair by delays in services, trains are now likely to run on time as any deviation from the schedule will cost officials of the national transporter their promotions.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has firmly told heads of zonal railways that delays in train services will defer their appraisal proportionately, giving them a month to improve punctuality.
During an internal meeting last week, Goyal gave a sound tongue-lashing to zonal general managers and said that they could not hide behind the pretext of maintenance work to explain delays in train services, a senior railway ministry source said.
In 2017-2018 fiscal, 30 percent trains were running late on the railway network, with the numbers failing to pick up even during the holiday season this summer.
The General Manager (GM) of Northern Railway bore the brunt of Goyal’s wrath, with the region recording an abysmal 49.59 percent punctuality performance till May 29, a 32.74 percent dip compared to the same period last year.
During the meeting, the minister called out every zonal head individually and asked them to explain the poor punctuality figures, the source said.
Goyal, who faced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s queries on punctuality of trains at the Pragati meeting last month, was particularly harsh on the Northern Railways chief as the zone fared dismally on the punctuality index.
It was followed closely by the Northeast Frontier Railway and the Eastern Railway – which recorded 27 percent and 26 percent plunge respectively.
“The minister demanded accountability from the GMs and made it clear that by June 30, if he doesn’t see improvement, the respective GMs will not be considered for promotion,” the source, who was present during the meeting, said.