New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has said that the failure of Indian Railways to adequately invest in augmentation of station line capacity and ensure timely completion of such work is one of the reasons for delays in train services.
The audit was conducted with the aim of assessing whether the available infrastructure is adequate for handling the present and expected traffic load, according to the report that was submitted in Parliament on Tuesday.
The audit studied 15 railway stations across the country with maximum traffic, including Allahabad, Kanpur, Mathura, Mughalsarai, Chennai Central, Howrah, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and New Delhi railway stations.
Trains have to wait at outer signals or the adjacent station until the platform is vacated by the earlier train because of non-availability of platforms, the audit found. Passenger trains on an average across these 15 stations were detained for 15 to 25 minutes because of this reason. Passenger trains were often started late from some selected station by more than 15 minutes and up to 74 minutes at all the selected stations expect Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Chennai Central.
The detention of goods trains was significantly higher and ranged from 21 minutes to 100 minutes per train on all selected stations except Delhi, New Delhi, Howrah and Chennai Central, the report revealed.
Activities such as providing platform with adequate length for easy boarding/de-boarding of passengers, providing adequate facilities for stabling and maintenance of trains on stations, adequate yard capacity, and washing pit lines, significantly contribute to the timely arrival and departure of trains, the report says.
However, these activities are not part of any of the stations development plans, the report observes. The station development plans mainly address facilities for passengers on the station premises and facade of stations only and not on removing constraints and bottlenecks for ensuring timely arrival and departure of trains, which should be one of the most important parameter of the quality of service being provided to passengers.
The auditor said that the poor quality of services provided by Indian Railways was a result of the national carrier’s inability to ensure that infrastructure development kept pace with the growing traffic. “A decongested line at a station is largely dependent on factors such as adequate number and length of platforms and tracks, proper interlinking of tracks, adequate lines for stabling and maintenance of passenger trains and obstacle free movement of trains without any permanent speed restrictions. Line congestion not only results in detention of trains and loss of punctuality. Detention of trains ultimately results in poor quality service to the passengers," it said.
Indian Railways is one of the biggest railway networks in the world with a track length of 67,368 km and 7,349 railway stations. In 2016-17, Indian Railways carried 22.24 million passengers per day and operated 13,329 passenger trains every day.