The Railways’ new timetable promises not just faster trains but has set aside hours for maintenance work across the country every day for greater passenger safety.
‘Trains at a Glance’ for 2017-2018, which came into effect yesterday, shows that the timetable has been designed to help engineers and others undertake regular maintenance work in blocks of two to four hours.
The maintenance will be for fixed infrastructure such as tracks, signalling gears and overhead equipment.
The emphasis on maintenance assumes importance in view of some recent train accidents. At least 20 people were killed after a train derailed in Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh on August 19 because tracks were being repaired.
Soon after taking over the railway portfolio, minister Piyush Goyal had said no demand for blocks from any rail section should be denied.
Blocks are periods when trains are not allowed on a track so that maintenance work can be carried out.
Currently, on highly dense routes such as the Delhi- Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai sectors, there is a train on the tracks every 10 minutes, leaving engineers with little time for maintenance work.
But with trains running faster under the the new timetable, hours will be taken out of the schedule for maintenance work.
A total of 65 trains on the Northern Railways will run faster than before. The national transporter has reduced the running time of close to 500 trains across zones from anywhere from 15 minute to three hours, officials told earlier this week.
Under the new timetable, trains have been either bunched together or shifted on different tracks to make way for maintenance blocks.
So, some trains have been rescheduled, some mail or express trains regulated and some passenger trains short terminated in each section where asset maintenance works are scheduled. This, the Railways believe, will ensure passenger safety.
The Railways will also have a timetable for its employees which will enumerate operational details of all trains and for each division. It will contain information on gradients, running time, locomotive hauling capacity, margin for drivers to make up and speed restrictions, and other information to assist operators.
Railway tracks are inspected daily on foot in addition to inspection by push and motor trolleys once a month. The assistant divisional engineer reviews it once in two or three months depending on the route s importance.
In the new timetable, virtually every rail zone has faster trains. The Northern Railway timetable has three new trains for the sector — Tejas, Humsafar and Antyodaya Express.