India’s fastest train Gatimaan Express has run late 3 out of every 10 trips
Flagged off by railway minister Suresh Prabhu on April 5, 2016, Gatimaan is supposed to cover a distance of 188 km between Delhi’s Nizamuddin Railway Station and Agra Cantonment in 1.40 hours with no halts.india Updated: Aug 28, 2017 21:22 IST
Flagged off by rail minister Suresh Prabhu on April 5, 2016, the Gatimaan, which loosely translates to fast-moving, is supposed to cover a distance of 188km between Delhi’s Nizamuddin railway station and Agra Cantonment in 1.40 hours with no halts.
A look at the arrival-departure data for journeys made between April 5, 2016 and April 5, 2017 shows that while the train left from both ends at the right time on most occasions, it lost momentum en route, mainly because of fog in the winter and allegedly faulty safety equipment.
The data was obtained from the northern and north-central railway zones through an application filed under the right to information act.
As the Gatimaan makes the roundtrip six days a week, except on Friday, the train ran for 314 days, or 628 trips, in its first year of operation.
It reached Agra Cantonment late on 66 days while plying from Delhi, the delays almost doubled to 127 days while returning to Nizamuddin.
Railway sources said most of the delays occurred due to poor maintenance of train protection warning devices (TPWDs), besides foggy conditions.
The TPWD, a safety device fitted on various points of the track, detects red signals ahead and conveys the information to engines whenever they run over it. It automatically reduces the train’s speed or applies the emergency brakes.
“However, due to lack of maintenance, TPWDs often read the signals incorrectly and interfere with train speed – causing delays,” a railway official said.
The situation became worse in January, when the train arrived late at Agra Cantonment on 25 of the total 31 days with a maximum delay of 137 minutes. “As it departs for Agra at 8.50 in the morning, fog is the main reason for delays during the winter,” railway spokesperson of Agra division Sanchit Tyagi said.
He, however, denied reports of TPWD glitches causing trains to run slow. “There have been instances of delay due to signal failure and cattle being run over. There are gaps in the protection wall along the track,” he said.
Sources at Nizamuddin station pointed to delay in platform allocation and speed restrictions as the likely reasons for the train failing to make good time during its return journey.
Others complained that Gatimaan lacked some basic features.
“The engine’s wiper often fails to work, and there is no spray system to clean the front screen of insects during the rainy season. This seriously hampers visibility,” a railway official said.
First Published: Aug 28, 2017 13:15 IST