Keeping the festive season rush in mind, Indian Railways (IR) plans to introduce 2,900 special trains between now and November 10, 300 more than what was introduced in the corresponding period last year. The move is at a time when more than 10 lakh passengers struggle to get confirmed berths every day. The transporter is also working on a plan to improve occupancy levels by adding new coaches and computer-enabled efficient use of available berths.
A recent study undertaken by RailYatri.in indicates that over 10 lakh people fail to travel on a daily basis due to the non-availability of tickets, 13% of whom are long-distance travellers. A station-wise break-up of passengers who booked tickets but could not get them confirmed shows the Anand Vihar terminal at New Delhi is facing the maximum capacity constraint at 43%. Other stations facing capacity constraints are Jammu Tawi (38%), Lokmanya Tilak terminal (33%), Howrah (28%), Bangalore city junction (21%) and Pune (20%).
Railway officials state that increasing capacity by introducing more trains is not easy, as most of the routes face an over-capacity problem. The transporter has more than 1,219 sections that are high-density and connect metros, of which 492 sections are running at a capacity of over 100%. Another 228 sections are running at a capacity between 80% and 100%. In spite of a severe capacity constraint, railway officials are confident that measures like re-defining of berth availability, Vikalp scheme for alternative accommodation and transfer of vacant berths will ensure that the overall carrying capacity of passenger trains is increased.
“From the first week of October to the first week of November is peak time when it comes to passenger travel. Keeping that in mind, we plan to introduce a total of 2,900 special trains. The figure was around 2,600 last year during the same period. Additionally, we plan to permanently add 800 coaches in our trains this fiscal, of which we already have attached more than 330 coaches on various trains,” Mohd Jamshed, member, traffic, Railway Board, said. “The measures that we have taken have led to an increase in the average occupancy of trains, utilisation of berths, as well passenger traffic receipts,” he added.