Punctuality is very important but the government has taken a conscious decision to prioritise safety over other aspects, Railway minister Piyush Goyal told the Rajya Sabha today. As some members raised questions about trains getting late, Goyal explained the decision saying lot of the railway infrastructure required upgradation as some of these have over the past several decades outlived their life. He said the old lines were being refurbished and record track renewal was underway. “Out of an average, 1678 Mail or Express trains which terminated between August 1 and December 15, on an average, 1,140 trains reached their destination on or before the scheduled time. Out of the remainder, on an average 432 trains were delayed, 51 cancelled and 55 diverted or short terminated,” Goyal said in a reply was tabled in the House. He said some of the routes are saturated like Ghaziabad- Tundla-Allahabad-Varanasi, Ghaziabad-Moradabad-Lucknow- Varanasi and Ghaziabad to Khandwa. He said the punctuality of most trains connecting Ballia to Delhi and Mumbai was satisfactory during summer in the current year. The minister said measures like doubling were being undertaken and attempts were being made to decongest routes. Neeraj Shekhar (SP) had earlier raised questions about train delays and also asked why the bullet train was being run from Ahmedabad to Mumbai and not in other parts. Goyal also said that in the last three years, the amount spent on infrastructure upgradation in Bihar had nearly doubled to Rs 2,227 crore annually. A massive amount was being invested to upgrade the infrastructure, he added.
To a question about Barwadih (Jharkhand)-Chirimiri (Chhattisgarh) line, he said a joint venture company has been formed and the sanction of the project would be given on the basis of a feasibility study. Asked if such rail corridors would affect wildlife, Goyal said there were measures like speed reduction and raising of boundary walls. He, however, said that in Assam, a new situation was being witnessed where elephants were frequenting new routes.
In response to another question, Goyal said the work of Kosi bridge including new line from Nirmali to Sarayagarh and gauge conversion work between Sakri and Nirmali is targeted to be completed during 2018-19. He said the foundation stone of Kosi bridge was inaugurated by a former prime minister. The minister said there were some fund shortages for the Nirmali-Sarayagarh line but since 2014-15 sufficients funds were being allotted.