Trains in Chennai railway division flunk punctuality test, passengers hit hard

The punctuality of mail/express trains dropped to 79.58% in July 2023 compared to 92.67% in July 2022. Punctuality reduced to 86.3% in April 2023 compared to 96.06% in April 2022.
Representative image of a train
Representative image of a train ( File Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: Why are long-distance trains increasingly running late in Chennai? The punctuality of express and passenger trains operated by the Chennai division of the Southern Railways has dropped substantially in 2023-24, compared to the previous year, shows official data. The punctuality of mail and express trains dropped in 11 of 12 months from April 2023 to March 2024 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. The punctuality of passenger trains witnessed a reduction in all 12 months.

Chennai division operates around 300 mail and express trains and 170 passenger trains every day, apart from other special trains. Majority of these trains originate/terminate at Dr MGR Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore, which together account for around 60 pairs of daily trains and many other weekly, bi-weekly, and tri-weekly trains.

The punctuality of mail/express trains dropped to 79.58% in July 2023 compared to 92.67% in July 2022. Punctuality reduced to 86.3% in April 2023 compared to 96.06% in April 2022. The punctuality of trains indicates the percentage of trains that reached the stations on time.

Similarly, in case of passenger trains, the punctuality was 88.49% in August 2023 while it was 96.15% in August 2022.

Responding to the information, a Southern Railway spokesperson said the cause-wise analysis of punctuality cases in Chennai division for fiscal years 2023 and 2024 showed that the planned upgradation works in infrastructure, including tracks and signal equipment, had caused a rise in punctuality issues. These works were carried out in addition to the mandatory scheduled maintenance work for assuring safety in train running, he added.

“Similar infrastructure upgradation and scheduled maintenance work in adjacent railways and divisions caused reception of trains already running late at interface point stations such as Jolarpettai, Gudur, Renigunta, and Katpadi. This was also a cause for the increase in punctuality loss in the division,” the official said.

Train timings to be monitored on daily basis

However, punctuality of the trains is set to be monitored at a higher level on a daily basis to achieve improvement in the current year, he added.nother spokesperson rejected allegations that other trains are delayed as Vande Bharat trains are given precedence.

Sridhar Joshi, a Chennai-based rail enthusiast, said the railways should be proactive in informing passengers about train delays, even if it was at the last minute. “This will also help in decreasing the strain on station facilities such as toilets, food stalls, and seating areas,” he said.

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