New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Despite the massive track repair and maintenance work being undertaken by the Indian Railways, the instances of train derailment have gone up as compared to the past.
While there were 20 cases of derailment between April 1, 2017, and August 9, 2017, the number has gone up to 22 for the corresponding period this year — April 1 to August 9, 2018 — according to Railways data.
Since derailments are caused due to track defects, including weld failures and rail fractures, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has put special emphasis on strengthening tracks by replacing the aging rails with new ones.
In fact, laying new lines is not the priority now as it has been replaced by track renewal to prevent derailments.
“Track renewal is going on full steam across all zones,” a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS.
However, he noted that the ongoing track strengthening work has affected the train schedules as the Railways have to regulate the movement on the particular route to facilitate track repair.
“There are speed restrictions at many places due to the ongoing track maintenance work, affecting the punctuality rate,” said the official, adding this was done to make train rides safer.
According to the Railways punctuality data, North Central zone is at the lowest with 48.82 per cent punctuality rate during the July 30 to August 5, 2018, period, followed by the Northern and South East Central zones, with 56.86 per cent and 60.12 per cent, respectively.
The Lucknow and Allahabad divisions are also bottom of the punctuality performance with 31.94 per cent and 39.75 per cent, respectively.
“Our first priority is passenger safety and for that track renewal is going on all over the country. Though the exercise is causing some delays for some time, it has to be carried on for making train journeys safer,” said the official.
Asked why derailment cases are on the rise despite track renewal, the official said, “We have to analyse the incidents to know the real cause.”
However, the official said the derailments have not caused any casualty or serious injuries to passengers as most of these incidents have happened near stations when train speeds are low.
Besides track renewal, the Railways is also acquiring the Vehicular Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) system to detect track faults at a faster pace. Currently, it is detected manually which takes longer time to complete a particular route.
The USFD can detect the flaws in the primary stage and all developed countries have the system to avoid the human element in detecting cracks on rails.
(Arun Kumar Das can be contacted at [email protected])