Train delays will cost Railway officials their promotions: Piyush Goyal
In what should come as a relief to railway passengers frustrated by delays in services, trains are now likely to run on time as any deviation from the schedule will cost railway officials their promotions.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has warned heads of zonal railways that delays in train services will defer their appraisal proportionately, giving them a month to improve punctuality.
Piyush Goyal lashed out at Railway officials last week
During an internal meeting last week, Goyal lashed out at zonal general managers and said that they cannot hide behind the pretext of maintenance work to explain delays in train services, a senior railway ministry source said.
In 2017-2018 fiscal, 30% trains were running late on the railway network, with the numbers failing to pick up even during the holiday season this summer.
Northern Railway GM bore the brunt of Goyal's wrath
The General Manager (GM) of the Northern Railway, however, bore the brunt of Goyal's wrath, with the region recording an abysmal 49.59% punctuality performance till May 29, a 32.74% dip compared to the same period last year.
During the meeting, the Railways Minister called out every zonal head individually and asked them to explain the poor punctuality figures, the source said.
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Punctuality figures worse than expected: Source
"While the Minister (Goyal) has taken a lot of flak for the delays, he knew it was a price he had to pay for the large-scale renewal of tracks," the source said.
"However, the punctuality figures are way worse than what we had expected. Clearly, the zones are using maintenance work as an excuse to hide their inefficiency," he said.
PM Modi questioned Goyal on the punctuality of trains
Piyush Goyal, who faced Prime Minister Narendra Modi's queries on the punctuality of trains at the "Pragati" meeting last month, was particularly harsh on the Northern Railways chief as the zone was placed lowest on the punctuality index.
It was followed closely by the Northeast Frontier Railway and the Eastern Railway, which have recorded 27% and 26% plunge, respectively.
Reports quoted to explain how misusing resources led to delays
Goyal recalled a recent incident when engineers apparently wasted Rs. 25L in a failed attempt to replace a girder at Nizamuddin railway station in New Delhi.
"The Minister demanded accountability from the GMs and said such wasteful blocks should not be taken. He was aghast that such unnecessary delays were happening during the holiday season when trains are in high demand," the source said.
Railways Minister wants to see improvement by June 30
"He (Piyush Goyal) has now made it clear that by June 30, if he doesn't see improvement, the respective GMs will not be considered for promotion," the source, who was present during the meeting, said.
"He also said that their performance ratings will depend on where they figure on the delay list. The lower they are, the worse for them," the source added.