Indian Railways has blamed the maintenance backlog and simultaneous infrastructure creation for “punctuality issues.” It further said the maintenance of its network would remain its top priority so as to ensure zero mishaps.
“Maintenance is our top priority today and there is a maintenance backlog in the network. While we are focusing on this aspect, infrastructure creation is also happening simultaneously. All these could lead to punctuality issues,” they said.
Official figures say almost 30 per cent of the trains ran late in the financial year 2017-18, which is the railway’s worst performance in the last three years.
The infrastructure “has not created the pace to accommodate the growing traffic”, sources said. While 1,000 trains ran on the railway network in the year 2000, the number has now risen to 2,600, outstripping the network capacity, they added.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, the punctuality of mail and express trains was 71.39 per cent, down from 76.69 per cent in the corresponding period of 2016-2017.
In 2015-2016, 77.44 per cent trains ran on time.
In 2016-2017, the railways put in over 15 lakh maintenance blocks in 2,687 locations, resulting in delays in both the mail and express trains. The number of blocks rose to 18 lakh in 2017-2018, with maintenance work being carried out in 4,426 locations.
The Indian Railways is undergoing a phase where the upgradation, modernisation and renewal of the tracks are going on in a big way.
The railways is ensuring that the time taken for maintenance in a particular stretch is used optimally and efficiently, sources in the Railway Ministry said.