NEW DELHI: The punctuality of trains hit a four-year-low in 2018 despite the Indian Railways stretching running time of mail and express trains in order to improve the times, according to data collected by the Railway Board. The overall punctuality till November 2018 fell to 73 per cent compared to 79.30, 79.41 and 83.37 in 2017-18, 2016-17, and 2015-16 respectively.
The fall comes at a time when Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has issued directions to ensure that train runs on time. In June 2018, zonal railways rationalised the timings of some mail and express trains to improve punctuality performance.
Initially, the Southern and Northern Railways pushed their train timings up by an hour but that doesn’t seem to have helped. According to the data, punctuality of the Northern Railways came down to 57.21 per cent in 2018 while it was 76.89, 73.15 and 64.97 in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively.
The move did nothing for the Southern Railways either as only 75.56 percent trains ran on time in 2018 while 88.59, 86.95 and 81.11 ran on time during the previous three years.
According to the Railways, trains run late owing to various factors which include asset failures, capacity constraints, damage to tracks due to breaches, accidents, cattle run-overs, electricity grid failure and bad weather such as fog as well as law and order problems.
“Various measures have been initiated to improve punctuality such as prioritisation of preventive maintenance of assets to minimize asset failures, capacity enhancement projects by construction of additional loop lines at stations, construction of third line corridors...” MoS for Railways Rajen Gohain had informed the Parliament during the recently-finished Winter Session.