NEW DELHI: Days after being reprimanded by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal over the declining punctuality of trains, the Northern Railways (NR) today clarified that despite large-scale works underway in the zone, there was only a 10-per cent drop in the timelines of trains as compared to last year.
At a press conference, Vishwesh Chaube, General Manager (GM), NR, said as of June 8, 2017, the punctuality rate in the zone was 63 per cent, adding that on June 8, 2018, it had declined to 53 per cent.
"The punctuality of trains is now being recorded through data-loggers whereas, earlier it was done manually.
Now, even if a train is late by a minute, it is counted as a train arriving late.
This has made a difference in the punctuality figures of this year.
Also, despite a lot of work going on, there is only a 10-per cent drop in the punctuality rate," he said.
Chaube added that while the number of trains in the zone had increased from 1,300 in 2008 to 1,800 in 2018, the infrastructure had not grown at the same pace.
"So, capacity building is essential. The yards do not have the capacity to handle so many trains," he said.
The Northern Railways had taken measures to ensure punctuality of trains, including monitoring of the delayed trains at every station by the station directors, Chaube added.
A reduction in engineer restrictions, ensuring that the loco pilots ran at the maximum permissible speeds and an intensive exercise to reduce the speed restrictions had also helped curb the delays, he said, adding that in April, the punctuality rate of trains in the zone was 49 per cent, it grew to 50 per cent in May and in June, it was 53 per cent.
The NR data also showed the zone had taken 141 mega blocks (six-seven hours each) for maintenance work in 2017-2018 and 25 till May this year.
It had also completed 152 km of track-doubling and 545 km of track renewal in 2017-2018.
On May 30, Goyal had warned the heads of the zonal railways that delays in train services would defer their appraisal proportionately and given them a month (till June 30) to improve the punctuality of trains.
Sources present at the meeting said Chaube had to face Goyal's wrath with the NR zone recording an abysmal 49.59-per cent punctuality performance till May 29, a 32.74-per cent dip compared to the same period last year.