New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Howrah Division in Bengal is the worst performer as far as trains running on time is concerned, with a punctuality performance of only 34 per cent for the week ended June 3. It is closely followed by Lucknow Division with 39 per cent.
Curiously, an above 80 per cent punctuality rate is considered “reasonable” for Indian Railways, one of the largest railway systems in the world. Currently, Indian Railways’ overall punctuality rate is about 65 per cent — not an ideal situation for authorities or passengers.
Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani has said: “At the moment, punctuality rate is 65 per cent and I am not satisfied.”
Zonewise, South East Central’s punctuality performance has remained at the bottom at 44 per cent followed by North Central’s 47.5 per cent, according to Railways data.
However, Bhavnagar has fared extremely well with 99.27 per cent while Sealdah Division has clocked 98.19 per cent in the week from May 28 to June 3 this year.
Delhi Division’s performance is below the 65 per cent mark at 64.64 per cent, while Mumbai Division is even worse at 55.5 per cent for the same period.
Though Railways has made an all-out effort to prevent delays by improving the punctuality rate, Mail/Express trains are sometimes running more than five to 10 hours behind the schedule, causing much inconvenience to passengers.
Even premium trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto are running late in some sectors due to various reasons, including ongoing track renewal and maintenance, bridge repair and speed restrictions.
“In order to ensure safety, Railways has undertaken a massive track renewal job, replacing old and aged lines in a concerted manner,” a senior official involved with safety operations told IANS. He added that track renewal is under way in almost every section.
Since track renewal is a priority now, lines are blocked for the work, which causes the trains to run slow.
The tracks fit for 110 km to 130 km per hour speed are also witnessing the slowdown effect, with even the Rajdhani service being hit.
Besides Lucknow, other divisions of the Northern Zone are also performing badly on the punctuality front with Moradabad’s being a low 40.14 per cent.
In the Southern Zone, Thiruvananthapuram has touched 45.68 per cent while Chennai and Palakkad are at 66.4 per cent and 69.08 per cent, respectively.
While East Central’s Sonepur has clocked 44.19 per cent, Danapur Division recorded 67.6 per cent punctuality rate last week.
Mughalsarai, the busiest section of the rail network, has not been able to touch even the 55 per cent mark as it registered 54.72 per cent punctuality rate.
(Arun Kumar Das is a senior Delhi-based freelance journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected])