2017-18 CAG Report on Indian Railway.
In 2017-18, Indian Railways had the worst punctuality performance in three years. 30 per cent trains ran late in 2017-18, according to official data. From April 2017-March 2018, the punctuality of mail and express trains was 71.39 per cent, down from 76.69 per cent in 2016-17, which is a deterioration of 5.30 per cent.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its latest report which was tabled at the Parliament on August 7, has slammed the Indian Railways for lack of adequate infrastructure at the railway station as the reason for repeated train delays. It has also found a number of flaws in the government’s station redevelopment plans which costs Rs 1 lakh crore.Officials have said that the Railways is facing the punctuality issue due to the maintenance work undertaken on a massive scale. Both mail and express trains have been running behind scheduled time because of over 15 lakh maintenance blocks that were put in 2,687 locations in 2016-17. This rose to 18 lakh in 2017-18 with maintenance work in 4,426 locations.
Lack of washing and pit lines
Additionally, lack of washing pits lines and stabling lines have been cited as two other major reasons for train delays. The washing pit lines are tracks with open dumping pits which are used for cleaning and maintenance purposes to prepare a train for the next trip. Whereas, stabling lines are running lines where empty trains are stabled upon their arrival where they wait before going to the washing lines. The CAG report finds that only 35 pit lines and 20 stabling lines out of 79 pit lines and 63 stabling lines have the capacity of handling 24 coaches. It also found out that the infrastructure has not been tweaked in tandem with the growing number of trains and their coaches.
Sources in the ministry said that Indian Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani has told the zonal railway officials it was embarrassing that such delays were happening. According to a report by The Economic Times, Lohani has ordered a 15-day drive to ensure punctuality of trains.
Meanwhile, data shows that the last three years saw a decline in the number of accidents, from 135 in 2014-15 to 107 in 2015-16. This further came down to 104 in 2016-17 and 73 cases were registered in the last fiscal.
Recommendations of CAG
CAG in its report has also recommended a seven-step process to ensure that such unnecessary delay does not occur in the future. It includes measures like creating a master plan for all major railway stations that experience heavy traffic. It also recommended increasing the platform length to accommodate trains with 24 coaches. Other recommendations include revamping the infrastructure at the railway stations, construction of additional pit and washing lines where ever possible and removal of empty rakes.