Over 3,000 trains were cancelled last year due to maintenance work on the Indian Railways network, the highest since 2014, the national transporter said in response to an RTI query.
“This indicates that the Railways has undertaken large-scale repair and development projects, which when completed will make the network more modern and safe,” a Railway official said.
In 2014, 101 trains were cancelled due to maintenance work. The number increased to 829 in 2017 and 2,867 in 2018. In 2019, 3,146 trains were cancelled because of maintenance work, the Railways stated in its reply.
The RTI was filed by Chandra Shekhar Gaur from Madhya Pradesh.
Between January 1 and September 30 last year, 2,251 trains were cancelled and from October 1 to December 31 last year, 895 trains were cancelled due to maintenance works, as per the reply.
In 2019, the Railways completed seven of the 58 super-critical projects underway on congested routes. One of these projects was finished in 2018, officials said. The remaining 50 will be completed by March 2022, they said.
“The ongoing large-scale works on the railway network has resulted in cancellations and a delay of trains. But these are essential works which have been pending for a long time. Though it may be inconvenient for passengers, this is a burden we all have to bear if track renewal and other maintenance work has to be done,” an official said.
The official said the Railways has planned to complete electrification of its network by December 2023. It has also set a target to complete all the sanctioned works for gauge conversion by December 2023 and the doubling of routes by March 2024, they said.
Maintenance include the upgrading of of platforms, yard lines and tracks. Poor maintenance of tracks and pending track works are the major reasons for train accidents.
Over 50% of the accidents in the last five years were due to derailments. The Railways is in the process of expanding capacity and modernising infrastructure, officials said.
The budget has allocated ₹12,000 crore to build new rail tracks in 2020-21, up from ₹7,881 crore in FY20. As much as ₹8,461 crore was spent for track renewals this fiscal, which will rise to ₹10,599 crore in 2020-21.