Neither quick nor on time — CAG report delves into all that ails the Nice Indian Railways


New Delhi: The Indian Railways has not managed to hurry up its trains and enhance punctuality regardless of placing in Rs 2.5 lakh crore on constructing infrastructure over a decade, and implementing ‘Mission Raftaar’ in 2016-17, an audit performed by the Comptroller and Auditor Basic (CAG) of India has discovered.

A report tabled by the CAG in Parliament throughout the Funds session this month famous that the Railways has failed to enhance its “mobility outcomes”. As a part of ‘Mission Raftaar’, the Railways had envisaged to extend the common velocity of passenger trains to 75 km per hour from 50 km per hour, and of freight trains to 50 km per hour from 25 km per hour by the tip of 2021-22.

However, the CAG audit notes, the velocity has remained nearly the identical for passenger trains and has lowered for freight trains to 23.6 km per hour.

“The typical velocity of mail and categorical trains and items trains in 2019-20 was solely 50.6 kmph and 23.6 kmph, respectively,” the report states.

In keeping with the railway ministry, rising stress of passenger trains on the extant rail infrastructure is in charge for the gradual velocity.

“There was an exponential improve within the variety of passenger providers, with the Indian Railways introducing round 200 trains per yr on a mean, with out commensurate enhancement of the infrastructure works,” the ministry stated in its reply to the CAG, which sought a response from the federal government on the declining state of affairs within the railways.

Consultants describe the gradual velocity of trains as a matter of concern, saying that it could saddle the railways with monetary issues if left unresolved.

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The ‘crawling’ categorical

The CAG’s evaluation relies on trains operated by the Indian Railways for monetary yr 2019-20, when it was working at full energy earlier than the Covid pandemic.

Based mostly on the time taken and distance travelled by a prepare between the supply and vacation spot station, the CAG calculated the common velocity of two,951 categorical trains operating within the nation.

Of those, 2.1 per cent (62) averaged a velocity of greater than 75 km per hour. The vast majority of the categorical trains (37 per cent) averaged speeds of 55-75 km per hour. There have been 933 trains (31 per cent) with a mean velocity of 40-50 km per hour. About 269 or 9.4 per cent categorical trains averaged a velocity of under 40 km per hour.

The CAG famous that there was a marginal enchancment within the velocity of those categorical trains, however that has come at the price of slowing down different passenger trains.

It acknowledged that, in 2012-13, an categorical prepare would often take 19 hours 52 minutes to cowl a distance of 1,000 kilometres, which got here all the way down to 19 hours 47 minutes in 2019-20.

The non-express-passenger trains would take 27 hours 37 minutes to cowl 1,000 km in 2012-13. By 2019-20, these trains have been taking 29 hours 51 minutes for a similar distance.

Equally, in 2012-13, the electrical a number of items (EMUs) that often journey small distances took 1 hour 13 minutes to cowl a distance of fifty km, and, by 2019-20, they have been taking 6 minutes longer.

Additionally, there’s a most permissible velocity (MPS) as much as which a prepare is allowed to run on particular tracks. The audit notes that this MPS hasn’t been up to date for a very long time.

The legendary superfast categorical

ThePrint scanned the time tables and distances lined of all of the particular trains in India — Rajdhanis, Shatabdis, Sampark Krantis, Jan Shatabdis, Humsafar Categorical, AC Superfast Categorical, Duronto Categorical, Gatiman Categorical and the Vande Bharat Categorical. The evaluation confirmed that these “superfast” trains don’t common a velocity of even 100 kilometres/hour.

Since 2007, all these trains have levied a “superfast” payment for the reason that common velocity between the supply and vacation spot station is above 55 km per hour.

The Delhi-Jhansi Gatiman Categorical is the nation’s quickest prepare masking a distance of 403 kilometres in about 4.3 hours — averaging a velocity of about 93.1 km per hour.

The 2 Vande Bharat Categorical trains — one going to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra and the opposite going to Varanasi — additionally common about 88 km per hour.

The Tejas Rajdhani and the conventional Tejas Categorical trains — which run on the newest Tejas rake — common solely about 78.3 km per hour and 76.4 km per hour, respectively.

The Rajdhani Categorical — which connects main capitals of the nation to nationwide capital Delhi — averages about 73.6 km per hour, adopted by Duronto Categorical at 70 km per hour.

The Shatabdi Categorical, which connects main cities inside the restrict of 5-6 hours’ journey time, averages about 69.1 km per hour.

All these premium trains include a premium value. The minimal fare in a Chennai Rajdhani for a third AC berth is Rs 3,140 for a journey of greater than 28 hours, whereas a direct flight on its lowest value day (as calculated by Google flights) will common about Rs 2,400 and would attain Chennai in 2-3 hours.

The Sampark Kranti Categorical trains, which have been launched in 2004-05 to supply connectivity between capital cities, are an reasonably priced substitute for the Rajdhani Categorical, whereas the Jan Shatabdi Categorical trains supply a substitute to the Shatabdi Categorical for price range travellers. The typical velocity of those trains on paper is 63.6 km per hour and 56.2 km per hour, respectively.

Contemplating the truth that so lots of India’s nationwide highways now boast a restrict of 100 km per hour and there are plans to extend this by one other 20 km per hour, the Indian roadways could quickly begin competing with the Indian Railways at the least for inter-city connections if trains proceed at their gradual tempo.

Freight trains paint one other melancholic story. Their velocity during the last 5-6 years has solely come down.

In 2012-13, a items prepare would take 39 hours and 49 minutes to cowl 1,000 kilometres, whereas in 2019-20, the time elevated to 42 hours and 22 minutes. The typical velocity of a freight prepare has come down from 25.2 km per hour in 2009-10, to only 23.2 km per hour in 2019-20.

Freight trains are the Railways’ money cows — the revenue earned from freight is twice as a lot as what the behemoth earns from passengers.

“The gradual velocity of railways is a matter of concern — particularly for freight trains. The earnings from items trains are used to subsidise passenger fares, however contemplating the rising competitors with roadways, the railways could face powerful instances forward if it continues to be gradual and inefficient. If increasingly cargo will get transported in vehicles, railways may need to extend passenger fares, which is a political resolution particularly for decrease class tariffs. On the finish of the day, the railways may wrestle financially,” stated Rajat Kathuria, economist and dean of social sciences at Shiv Nadar College.

“If increasingly cargo will get transported in vehicles, the railways may need to extend the fares of its passenger trains, which will get politicised. On the finish of the day, the railways may wrestle with monetary issues,” he added.

Internationally, Kathuria stated, the “railways is one of the best contestant for ferrying cargo due to decrease emissions and quicker deliveries, however gradual speeds could improve vehicles on expressways, which isn’t good for the atmosphere since our vehicles devour numerous diesel and launch extra emissions”.

“Devoted freight corridors is an efficient step, however the railways should work on modernisation and monetisation (with out essentially promoting) of its property,” he added.

The long-term consequence of gradual trains is an inefficient system, stated Saon Ray, professor at ICRIER.

“For instance, X quantity of products might be moved in day, however really it’s transferring lower than that quantity. In combination phrases, it implies that the sources are being underutilised.
Because of this this might, in the long term, have an effect (possibly small, however unfavourable) on progress within the nation,” Ray added.

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Punctuality points

The CAG report famous that India’s gradual categorical trains don’t make it on time both, which implies that the common velocity of a prepare might be even slower than what’s talked about on paper.

The Indian Railways has a 15-minute punctuality yardstick — if a prepare reaches the vacation spot station inside quarter-hour of its scheduled time, it’s thought of to be on time. Even so, the CAG audit discovered that, on common, solely 69.23 per cent of trains reached their locations on time, and the pattern has been transferring downwards.

On common, about 69 per cent of the categorical trains made it on time in 2008-09, which improved to 83 per cent in 2013-14. However since then, this quantity has been on a decline.

The CAG report famous that, in 2015-16, the Railways Complaints Administration System acquired greater than 9,100 complaints on punctuality, which rose to twenty,025 in 2016-17 and 35,793 in 2017-18. By 2018-19, the variety of complaints on prepare punctuality had shot as much as 40,077.

A prepare is meant to cease for about 2 minutes on common at a station, however on some busy stations, the common halt is sort of excessive, the audit famous. “Longer and frequent stoppages create congestion at junction factors and en route, which reduces general velocity. Enhance in variety of stoppages impedes the discount of journey time,” the report notes.

On punctuality, the railways advised the CAG that trains are delayed on account of exterior components not in its management. “The decline in efficiency is to be seen with respect to the explanations on a case-to-case foundation, together with exterior components past management of railway administration. Within the present monetary yr, as much as 30 September 2021, the punctuality of Indian Railways has been recorded as much as 94.29 per cent (as in comparison with 75.38 per cent in 2019-20),” the rail ministry stated in its reply.

The CAG audit, which had analysed the crucial components influencing punctuality, famous that the exterior components past the railways’ management accounted for delays 12.89 per cent of the time.

‘Sluggish undertaking completion’

Regardless of an funding of Rs 2.5 lakh crore, from 2008-09 to 2018-19, on rail infrastructure, gradual velocity of undertaking completion has affected plans to extend velocity of trains.

About 57 per cent of the Rs 2.5 lakh crore was put in constructing new tracks and doubling the prevailing strains. “However these tasks take a substantial period of time,” the audit notes.

On common, a rail undertaking takes about 5.3 years to finish — however a undertaking involving doubling of tracks will full in about 7.5 years, the audit factors out. Of the 39 doubling-track tasks scanned by the CAG, 22 took greater than 5 years, 15 took two to 5 years, and solely 2 tasks have been accomplished in below 2 years.

“The explanations for the lagging of ongoing upkeep works are insufficient provision of the block, absence of built-in block, larger line capability utilisation, scarcity of observe machines, labour drawback and fund constraints,” the report says.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

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