Railways have utilised the cancellation of regular passenger and express train services during the pandemic-induced lockdown as an opportunity to complete the maintenance of coaches and improve the punctuality of trains running in Kerala to 100%.
Though train services have commenced only partially following the COVID-19 Unlock process, the Thiruvananthapuram railway division is consistently maintaining a cent percent punctuality and the adjoining Palakkad railway division has 99.9% punctuality.
“The Thiruvananthapuram division is maintaining 100% punctuality for three months. It has gone down only during the breaches and flooding of tracks during heavy rains. Failures are fewer. It is as a result of the team work involving all departments during the lockdown,” railway officials told The Hindu.
As the Thiruvananthapuram railway division’s jurisdiction extends to adjoining Tamil Nadu, and the Palakkad division’s up to Mangaluru, the spin-off effect is felt outside the State too.
Compared to the 120 trains handled daily by the Thiruvananthapuram division during the pre-COVID-19 period, only 16 pairs are being handled now. In the Palakkad division, the number has come down to 30 from 100.
More trains soon
The Railway Board’s nod for more weekly long-distance fully reserved special trains will be a challenge. Officials are confident that they will be able to maintain the punctuality at 100% even if more trains are operated.
In addition to the additional maintenance of the coaches, the works undertaken during the lockdown period by the engineering, signal, telecommunications, and electrical wings have resulted in the improvement of the punctuality in the two divisions.
“Works pending for five to six years had been cleared during the lockdown,” sources said. The replacement of tracks and ballast has also helped Railways achieve the feat in the State.
Good condition of rails and ballast are the key factors for maintaining punctuality. The improvement in track condition is reflected in the punctuality of mail, express, and passenger trains, it has been pointed out.
For Railways, especially the Operations wing of the two divisions, the 100% punctuality is a relief as they had earned the wrath of the commuters and the State government alike for the late running of trains.