Railways to reduce day time travel
Around 400 mail and express trains will be upgraded to super fast category.india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 11:11 IST
The travel time of as many as 400 Indian trains are to be reduced as part of the railways' plans to improve passenger services.
"Around 400 mail and express trains are to be upgraded to super fast trains to reduce travel time. Several trains are to be rescheduled to cut down daytime travel," a senior railway ministry official said.
An example is the Rajdhani that leaves New Delhi at 5 pm and reaches Mumbai around 10 am next day, cutting into office working hours.
Rescheduling such trains would take place so that passengers are not forced to waste daytime travelling.
"The idea is to allow passengers to save on daytime travel by rescheduling and increase night-time travel," the official said.
Indian Railways operates more than 14,000 passenger and freight trains a day, carrying a total of 14 million people.
Better management of passenger and freight traffic have resulted in the second largest railway network in the world enjoying improved fiscal health.
Also, extra coaches would be added to passenger trains if there are more than 100 people awaiting firm allotment of berths.
"This plan is being considered for 258 sets of trains," a railway source said. To make it operational, plans are afoot to expand the platforms at various stations across the country.
Another move in the offing is to attach coaches from trains that have excess capacity to trains where seats are in demand.
The effort should be "to cut down losses on passenger business by at least 50 per cent without increasing fares" is how Railway Minister Lalu Prasad put it in a communiqué to railway officials.
The loss incurred on the passenger segment due to the existing catering policy and free or subsidised travel passes is 61 per cent.
Nonetheless, Indian Railways is for the first time expected to report a healthy cash reserve of Rs 110 billion after clearing the backlog of Rs 35 billion dividend payout to the government.
The cash reserves for 2004-05 were Rs.3.5 billion.
The healthy kitty has encouraged the railways to revive the Capital Fund after eight years to put aside Rs 20 billion to undertake infrastructure projects.
An incremental freight loading of 110 million tonnes in just two years has contributed in a large part to the fiscal health, official sources pointed out.