New Delhi, Dec 23 (PTI) More than 35,000 trains were cancelled in the first nine months of the 2021-22 fiscal year due to maintenance reasons, the railways said in a reply to an RTI query.
The national transporter also said that during the April to June quarter of 2021-22, it had cancelled 20,941 trains due to “maintenance reasons”, in the next quarter it had cancelled 7,117 trains,while in the October to December quarter, it had cancelled 6,869 trains.
The RTI query was filed by Madhya Pradesh-based Chandra Shekar Guar. Officials indicated that the highest number of such cancellations in recent history was in 2019, when around 3,146 trains were cancelled due to maintenance work.
In 2014, 101 trains were cancelled due to maintenance work and the number increased to 829 in 2017, 2,867 in 2018 and 3,146 in 2019, according to official figures.
“This shows the amount of work that is required to be done on worn out tracks that have been long pending,” an official said.
The Railways is on its way to deliver 58 super critical and 68 critical projects worth more than Rs 1,15,000 crore in the next few years, according to the Railway Ministry.
Twenty-nine super critical projects of total length 1,044 km, costing Rs 11,588 crore, got commissioned in the last one year.
Out of the 29 super critical projects, 27 projects were scheduled to be completed by December 2021 while two projects will be handed over by March this year.
It is however not clear as to how many passengers were affected between April and December last year when around 35,026 trains were cancelled due to maintenance works.
The RTI has also revealed that during this period, over 40,000 trains have been delayed.
The Railways, which had suspended all its normal passenger services for most of 2020 due to the Covid pandemic and ran only special trains through the year, resumed its operations in November last year.
In the RTI reply the Railways has said that 15,199 mail or express trains were delayed from April to December 2021 while 26,284 passenger trains ran behind time during the same period, taking the total of such delayed trains to 41,483.
The RTI also reveals that the Railways’ punctuality performance dipped as trains returned on the tracks and normal operations resumed.
During the April to June quarter, when the Railways was running only special trains, 7,050 trains were cancelled and the punctuality performance was around 94 per cent.
It dipped to 92 per cent when 14,249 trains were delayed in the July to September quarter.
The performance further slipped to 89 per cent with as many as 20,184 trains delayed during the October to December quarter when train operations were normalised, the RTI reply revealed.
In fact, most passenger trains — 15,334 were delayed in the October-December quarter.
Passengers have taken to social networking sites to complain about delays and many have even proposed that passengers be reimbursed for the time lost.
“As the trains get delayed what is the compensation from the Railways as delays can have a very big impact on the well-being of passengers. There is no pantry, no water, no stops where can they buy things to eat? Please help us out,” wrote Aman Awasthi on Twitter.
While maintenance reasons have led to cancellation of trains, the number of delays and cancellations this fiscal is expected to rise as winter sets in during the January to March quarter.
On January 22-23, the Railways cancelled around 1,500 trains due to operational reasons and foggy weather, according to the NTES website.
On Saturday, originating station of 18 trains had been changed, and 28 trains were short terminated. Similarly for Sunday, source station of 17 trains has been changed and 21 trains will be short terminated, according to official figures. Among those cancelled are trains that operate between Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, New Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, and Assam among others.
Passengers have also asked the ministry to invest in technology that would help railways run trains through fog.
“Whenever there is delay or cancellation during the winter months, the excuse is that there is fog. I want to ask the Railways when are they going to fix the problem? What about the automatic signal and anti-fog lights that they keep advertising about,” asked Arun Kumar Yadav who had to bear a four-hour delay recently. PTI ASG ANB ANB ANB
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