The Northern Railways has made it clear that train services could be affected by fog this winter as well.
For years, fog has been affecting the schedule of trains and the profitability of the railways, and endangering the safety of passengers.
As many as 13 pairs of trains have already been taken off the operation chart as "extremely delayed trains affect the entire chain of operation and maintenance of coaches". For the railways, the period between January 1 and February 15 is the most crucial.
Northern Railways general manager Vijay Kumar Gupta on Friday said because the onset and duration of fog could not be predicted, the natural phenomenon cannot be fought. He, however, said the railways had prepared a multi-pronged strategy to ensure maximum safety and limit the effects of the delayed operations.
"We will use fog-safety devices to avoid accidents. Various agencies, including our research wings, are working on new technologies to fight fog better but their details cannot be shared at this stage," he said.
"The train inquiry system has been computerised. Apart from calling 139, passengers can also track trains on www.railradar.trainenquiry.com. Because of delayed operations, trains are rescheduled and maintenance slots are disturbed. We're arranging for additional sanitation and health services, besides more booking and inquiry counters. There will be greater security and amenities at stations," he said.
"There are 600 fog-safety devices, a satellite-based system that shows the position of approaching signals through audio and visual indications, available with us. They are on trial and another 350 are on the way," said Northern Railways CPRO Niraj Sharma.
But these devices don't mean trains will not slow down. Drivers will only get to know about approaching signals. They cannot see the colours: red and green. They still will have to watch out. "The focus is on maintenance and monitoring of signaling systems and training of our crew members. We will ensure operation of fewer trains, preferably two, between two stations. About 1,000 fogmen and 3,500 patrolmen will also be on duty," Sharma added.