One crisis-ridden Government run transporter seems to be competing with another crisis-ridden sector of India — Aviation. Earlier, it has been reported that Air fares and rail fares are now almost similar. (Read More) Today, it appears that rail travel likes to compete more with air travel- in terms of speed!!
Indian Railways, IR, amid growing safety concerns, has plans aimed at adding more vigor to rail travel. It has grand plans to reduce the running times of over 500 long-distance popular trains from
November 2017; the reduction proposed to vary being between 15 minutes and two hours. IR will like to implement the new changes without affecting the current railway fares while increasing revenue. This is a part of an overhaul of the rail system of increasing the average speed of existing trains. The new timings will be updated in the November timetable of the railways. The new plan would see some of the major trains to speed up as per this new innovative railway time table. For example:
-the Guwahati-Indore Special covering its 2,330-km journey 115 minutes earlier.
-Bhopal-Jodhpur Express which will reach 95 minutes early
-Ghazipur-Bandra Terminus Express will cover its 1,929 km journey 95 minutes early
IR is planning to:
-review permanent current speed restrictions,
-conduct an internal audit in which over 40 trains including mail and express will have super-fast services,
-reduce halt timings of trains,
-eliminate stoppages of trains at stations where footfall is less,
-maximise the use of the existing rolling stock,
-upgrade track and infrastructure,
-each railway division will have at least 2-4 hours for maintenance tasks,
-introduce automatic signaling and
-utilize more the new Linke-Hofmann-Busch coaches that allow a 130 kmph top speed. (See: LHB coaches)
All these factors combined will enable the trains consume less journey time.
These plans to transform Indian Railways ar in sync with PM Narendra Modi’s extensive projects like green corridors, speed trains and electrification. Moreover, the Railway Minister would like to eliminate the number of train derailments and accidents. There have been eight railway ministers over the last eight years. Soon after taking charge as the new Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal has made it clear that improving the infrastructure and passengers’ safety is his top priority. Goyal has laid out an extensive plan to “transform” IR, which has been struggling with issues since ages.
Rail users in India know very well what IR needs to do foremost:
- do away with British work culture at a top speed,
- stop deployment of gang men in the residences of serving/retired railway officials for menial jobs,
- observe punctuality,
- make it safer,
- focus on eliminating unmanned level crossings,
- speed up track renewal,
- use technology and gang men for track maintenance, and
- go after revenue by transforming marketing.
But to advance productively along these lines, the chief requirement will be to bring back the house in order. That is, revolutionize the notorious IR work culture and renovate administration in the organization that would motivate its workforce. The decision to merge the Railway Budget with the Union Budget did not boost the employees’ morale. This now urgently calls for measures like getting railway men off duties at officers’ homes to back into operations, and putting an end to the tipping of catering staff on board. Something has to be done to eradicate “departmentalism”, or interdepartmental rivalry. It has so far remained unchanged despite several attempts for years about changing it. If this is not done and, more importantly, if the pace of doing things is not speeded up, and then it is useless to talk of speeding up of trains. It does not matter whether there is a new set of directorates or work continues through the existing structure.
IR has been battling hard to reduce, if not eliminate accidents substantially and improve the punctuality of trains. One only hopes that the trains just manage to maintain their schedule which is the least which a humble traveler anticipates from IR. And, there should not be another spate of rail accidents.