The railways are plaguing with punctuality issues leading to slow running of passenger trains due to colonial infrastructure and absence of freight corridors exclusively meant for goods trains. Report for the month of August shows passenger trains failed to go beyond the mark of 44.30 kmph.
Vishwas Dass | October 12, 2018 | New Delhi
Huge investment and collaborations with foreign countries to enhance the average speed of freight and passenger trains to cut down the travel time has been going on in the Indian Railways for a long. Several speed enhancement pacts have been inked or are in the process to be signed by Indian Railways with Russia, China, Germany and France.
However, the report for the month of August released by the railways presents a different picture altogether. The report reveals that the average speed of passenger trains has marginally increased by 0.20 kmph (kilometres per hour) in 2018 compared to the last year.
The railways operate over 12,000 passenger trains, which ferry over 23 million passengers, and 7,500 goods trains, carrying three million tons of freight, every day.
The average speed of passenger trains (excluding suburban service) in 2018 till August stood at 44.30 kmph as against the last year’s average speed of 44.10 kmph. The average speed of goods trains has been plummeted to 22.30 kmph from last year’s 22.60 kmph.
The said speed of the trains evidently mocks on the railways’ plan of transforming select corridors into semi-high speed corridors to ply trains at 160-200 kmph for which various studies have been conducted by Russia, Germany, France and China.
There has been a constant demand for faster services by passengers from the railways but the latter has not been able to offer faster rail travel to around 23 million passengers that it carries every day.
The report shows except four zones i.e. north eastern, north western, south central and western railway, no other zone was capable of running trains with increased average speed.
Western railway runs the passenger trains at the maximum average speed of 50.40 kmph against the previous year’s 49.60 kmph while the passenger services ran at a lethargic speed of 31.50 kmph in the north eastern railway.
In freight segment, north eastern railway put up a bad show where goods train ran at an average speed of 16.20 kmph, the slowest among other zones.
The Delhi-Agra Gatimaan Express which runs at a maximum speed of 160 kmph is believed to be the fastest train in India presently.
The railways have chosen nine corridors where trains are proposed to run between 160 kmph and 200 kmph. They are: Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Kanpur, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore, Mumbai-Goa, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Hyderabad and Nagpur-Secunderabad. These are the principal routes carry 58 per cent of freight and 52 per cent of passenger traffic with a share of only 15 per cent of the total rail network.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal says that trains would soon be running at a maximum speed of 160-200 kmph but only the report of his own ministry speaks exactly the opposite and it seems that this is yet a distant dream.
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