BENGALURU:While regular late running of the Dharmapuri-Bengaluru Passenger and the Yesvantpur-Hosur Passenger and protests by irate commuters to highlight their plight occupied centre stage this week in Bengaluru, a lesser known fact about passenger trains in the Division is that most of them run late daily!
Out of an average of 210 trains that run every day in the Bangalore Railway Division, 101 are passenger trains while the rest are Express/Mail trains. The number of passenger trains drop to just 54 every Sunday.
The late running of passenger trains even goes beyond an hour and 90 minutes at times. Late arrival and delay occur on 99 per cent of the trains, say passengers. They are fully dependent on the schedule of other Express or Mail trains.
The chief reason for the delays in trains is that the stations are already fully saturated, stress top railway officials. Trains have been introduced frequently without adequate improvement in infrastructure. “Due to political pressure and repeated requests and protests from commuter associations, we have been forced to increase the number of trains the last decade. This despite the section already carrying more than its capacity,” said a top railway official requesting anonymity.
“Railway infrastructure has increased by a maximum of 20 per cent while the number of trains launched has shot up by 500 per cent.”
The Bengaluru Division has double lines between Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (KSR) and Tumukuru as well as KSR and Jolarpet, explains another official. “While doubling has been carried out between Bengaluru and Baiyappanahalli sections, the portion between Baiyappanahalli and Salem is still a single line, he added. The two trains which suffered major delays figure on this line. Similarly, the line between KSR and Lottegollahalli has been doubled but not from Lottegolahalli to Salem via Banaswadi.
Elaborating on the problems this poses, a top official said, “In sections where there is just one track, we are forced to hold back passenger trains to let Express and Mail trains pass as per directions we receive. Many of them are long distance trains and come from other Railway Divisions and are late sometimes. We have no control over them.” Citing a recent instance, he said, “The Tuticorin Express came late two days ago. It upset the schedule of all passenger trains running along that section.”
Explaining the congestion on the tracks, a top official familiar with operations said Bengaluru Railway Division had hi-end machines for track maintenance but they are utilised only upto 47 per cent of their capacity. “The only reason is that trains are running constantly and we need a few spare hours at least to attend to the tracks which is not available. This can impact passenger safety,” he said.
Senior Divisional Operations Manager, K Gopinath,however, denied that most of the passenger trains were running late. “Only some trains run late. Not all,” he said.
Change Nagercoil Express timings: Passenger Assn head
Disproving the claim from the Senior Operations Manager of the Bangalore Railway Division that most passenger trains run on time, A K Sita Ram, president of the Travellers Association (Kolar) Bangarpet said, “For the last two years, four morning passenger trains from Kolar or Bangarpet to the city have not been running on time. This is only because of the introduction of one Express train along this route, the Nagercoil-Bangalore Express.” The Marikuppam-Bengaluru City (Suvarna) Passenger, Kuppam-Bengaluru City Passenger, Kolar-BNC Passenger and Marikuppam-Bengaluru City MEMU train ( 8 pm train) are all running late every day, Ram added. “Nearly 10,000 passengers commute on these trains daily to Bengaluru for work. If they slightly change the Nagercoil Express timings, it will benefit so many daily passengers.”
Cannot share timings of passenger trains, say officials
Despite requests, top railway officials refused to share the details of arrival and departure timings of passenger trains. This, despite all the statistics available ready on hand and are presented during the weekly in-house punctuality meetings held regularly on Mondays.
Trains that run daily via B’luru div
Number of passenger trains
Percentage by which infra has increased