CHENNAI: Southern Railway, which covers Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala, has recorded an increase in the number of punctuality loss cases of passenger mail and express trains, run by diesel locomotives, compared to last year. Of the total number of punctuality loss cases (169) in the zone registered during April- July this year, 74 were direct cases, meaning they were delayed due to problems faced by diesel locomotives. In comparison, there were 64 direct cases, against a total of 140 punctuality loss cases reported during the corresponding period in 2016.
This is based on data provided by the railway board. For the board, the issue is of significance as it aims to bring down such instances. All cases involving punctuality losses are reported through the Integrated Coaching Management System (ICMS), which gives real-time insight about train operations to higher railway authorities.When contacted, a senior railway official, on condition of anonymity, says, “Several reasons must be considered, including traffic, late turnout from shed, crew mismanagement and fuel.”
The official, however, contends that the number of cases involving the actual failure of diesel locos has decreased when compared to last year. Railways consider asset (loco) failure when it is detained for more than half an hour. “From 58 last year, the number has gone down to 42. We are regularly monitoring punctuality loses and taking corrective measures,” he says.
Among the four diesel locomotive sheds of Southern Railway, namely Erode, Tondairpet, Golden Rock (Tiruchy) and Ernakulam, the locos maintained at Erode faced higher punctuality issues, the data reveals.
A senior driver with more than 20 years of experience and operating out of Chennai division, opines that diesel locos have significant issues. “They have slow acceleration and less coach hauling capacity. More significantly, diesel locos suffer from lack of maintenance,” he says.
Southern Railway holds around 315 diesel locos, of which 48 are diesel electric multiple units (self-propelled trainsets). Officials say 295 diesel locos are in effective usage, with close to 220 being used for running passenger trains.