UP’s own railway network? Why Indian Railways should take cue from Belgium

Indian Railways (IR) is a behemoth. It runs 8,000 trains carrying 15 lakh passengers daily, and employs 14 lakh people. Only the Indian Army comes close to its gargantuan size.

While people still prefer train journey because it is a comfortable, fast and hassle-free mode of travel, certain deficiencies in its operations have stymied its popularity. A few decades ago trains carried 70% of passenger and freight loads, and buses and trucks carried the remainder. Now the ratio has been reversed. The major operational drawbacks are:

1. Non-punctuality in arrival timings;

2. Poor sanitation in non-AC coaches;

3. About 55% tracks are grossly underutilised; for example, hardly 2-3 trains run on Rohtak-Rewari or Jind-Sonipat or Kurukshetra-Narwana lines in Haryana;

4. Inability of states to run trains in their territories;

5. Busy routes like Delhi-Kolkata getting saturated, leaving no scope for running additional trains;

6. Paucity of funds to execute ongoing and new projects on time;

7. About 55% railway tracks need urgent doubling and electrification;

8. Operational cost is 96% of revenue receipts, thus leaving little scope for executing new projects;

9. Existence of missing links between two main lines;

10. Lack of innovation in designing lightweight coaches, more efficient engines and computerised running.

Some of these drawbacks are self-explanatory, and three issues need elaboration:

Centralisation of organisation

To efficiently run a vast railway network in a large country like India is a Herculean task. The huge size of the organisation is the biggest cause of its inefficiency.

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