No mean feat! How did Indian Railways achieve 100% punctuality of passenger trains? Find out here

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Published: July 3, 2020 4:45 PM

The 100% punctuality record was achieved when just 230 passenger trains were running along with around 3,000 loaded freight trains and 2,200 empty trains.

Indian Railways achieved 100% punctuality of its passenger trains on 1 July 2020.

Indian Railways achieves 100% punctuality! For the first time in history, Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways achieved 100% punctuality of its passenger trains on 1 July 2020. Before this, its previous best punctuality record was 99.54%, achieved on 23 June 2020, when just one passenger train got delayed. Considering all the constraints that the national transporter usually faces while running a train, this is no mean task! However, it should be noted that a very few trains are currently running on the Indian Railway network, and the punctuality of the national transporter can hardly be compared with its own performance on this ongoing COVID-19 crisis times, according to an IE report.

Every day, Indian Railways ran over 13,000 passenger train services and over 8,000 freight train services. The 100% punctuality record, on the other hand, was achieved when just 230 passenger trains were running along with around 3,000 loaded freight trains and 2,200 empty trains.

So, how did Indian Railways achieve 100% punctuality? Read on

According to an Indian Railways’ spokesman, the reasons that usually cause train delays have been eliminated systematically. Also, as per practice, the train services that are delayed by up to 15 minutes are considered to be on time. According to the report, there are a number of reasons for train delays, which is also why this achievement of the national transporter is significant. Some of these reasons include unforeseen situations like failure of assets such as the signalling system, overhead power equipment, etc. Also, various types of breakdowns can occur, which can be related to rail tracks, rolling stock, etc., making the train lose time along the way. Moreover, there are external unforeseen problems as well, like run-over cattle and humans, agitations on the railway tracks, among others.

According to the spokesperson quoted in the report, during the COVID-19 lockdown period, the maintenance of railway tracks was carried out in various critical sections. With this, the average speed of trains increased, as well as the stretches of slowing down were minimized. Also, improved and modern signalling as well as better planning and operation analysis are making an impact.

Generally, when the train is detained even for a short time, these failures take away a lot of scheduled time. This is because making up the lost time during the remainder of the train journey is a tricky business, the report stated. Any train service that gets delayed during the journey due to whatever reason theoretically eats into the “path” – or time slot that is allotted on the track- of another train, it further said. Then it becomes a matter for Indian Railways of which train to prioritize and conventionally, Rajdhani Express trains and premium trains get top priority of path over ordinary mail or express trains.

According to the report, usually in Indian Railways’ train operations, a train that is running on time on its given path, maintaining its schedule, is not disturbed to make space for another train that has suffered irredeemable delays. Generally, freight trains are held up to make way for passenger trains, as their runs are not exactly time-sensitive.

The juggling of train operations is a constantly dynamic scenario in which professionals of railway operations take calls. One of the major challenges is the network capacity constraints. This means that in a given time bracket, there are more trains than the network can handle. Around 60% of all Indian Railways’ train traffic is on the Golden Quadrilateral route, even though it just represents around 15% of the total network. There are projects to enhance capacity by laying additional railway lines as well as modernizing signalling systems, etc. The national transporter is working on “zero-based timetable”, which is likely to be introduced soon. Under this concept, every train that enters the Indian Railways network is justified based on needs and costs. The zero-based timetable is expected to make operations of train services more seamless.

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