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What's cooking at Indian Railways?

By Shine Jacob
June 19, 2018 16:50 IST
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From offering free food to passengers to re-arranging train timings Railways Minister Piyush Goyal announced a slew of measures to make the Railways more efficient

In the face of public ire about the punctuality of trains going haywire, the Indian Railways is now planning to rework the schedules of all trains from August 15, factoring in work on safety-related maintenance.


Going in airline mode, it also announced free meals for passengers for any unforeseen hold-up on Sundays.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday re-arranging train timings would be done giving a margin of delay of two-three hours every day, which can go up to five hours on Sundays.

“This punctuality exercise will be done without compromising with the pace of safety work,” Goyal said.

The minister said since the delay was longer on Sundays, the zones concerned would provide free food and water to reserved passengers during meal time.

This facility may even be extended to passengers in general compartments. The decision was made after reviewing the new automated data logging system.

Based on the latest data, the punctuality of the Indian Railways dipped to 65 per cent during the week ended June 3.

The data from analysis platform RailYatri indicates the average delay on all trains was 53 minutes in 2017, up from 45 minutes in the year before.

To improve the blockades on the Mughal Sarai-Allahabad route, which has a capacity utilisation of close to around 200 per cent, the minister has given the nod to a Rs 2,000 crore project to construct a third line in the area.

“I have also asked zones to take out all such bottlenecks on punctuality,” Goyal added.

The Central government is also planning to come up with elevated corridors in such busy areas.

The Howrah division in West Bengal is the worst in terms of punctuality at 34 per cent, followed by the Lucknow division at 39 per cent.

Meanwhile, to address the complaints regarding the quality of food on trains, the railways is planning to exhibit live feeds of 16 base kitchens to passengers.

“In the review meetings of seven zones held so far, I have given priority to safety, cleanliness and hygiene,” he said.

The national transporter is planning to have bio-toilets in all coaches by March next year.

Goyal said owing to safety-related work the railways had been successful in bringing down the number of accidents this year.

The railways now has more than 5,000 hours of blocked tracks, which used to be in the range of 4,000 hours last year.

The average speed of passenger trains in April was 44 km per hour (kmph), while that of freight trains was around 23 kmph.

Goyal said priority would be given to infrastructure development and the difficulty to passengers owing to safety work may stay for a year.

The rates with maximum delay include the Howrah-Patna section (253 minutes) and Delhi-Dibrugarh (232 minutes).

Photograph: PTI Photo

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Shine Jacob in New Delhi
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