The Railways' new "zero-based timetable", once introduced, will cut down travel time in long distance trains between 30 minutes and six hours on an average, Railway Board Chairman and CEO VK Yadav said Tuesday. The timetable, to be introduced by the national transporter once the coronavirus situation stabilises, works on the premise that the existence of every train and stop must be justified based on goals of providing transportation with optimum and efficient utilisation of the available resources. According to reports, to keep a stoppage. a minimum of 50 people should embark and disembark in a day.
"The idea is to increase the occupancy of poorly-patronised trains and to reduce waitlisting in those trains which are in high demand. Once the timetable is operational, the journey time of long distance trains will be reduced between half an hour and six hours on an average. Under this timetable the speeds of trains will also increase," Yadav told a press conference here.
He also said that no stoppages or halts will be done away with but that they will merely be rationalised. He said that "professional studies" are being conducted to see which trains and halts need to be rationalised, which trains are to be merged and things are still being finalised, assuring people that they will not be inconvenienced in any way.
Yadav also said that the Railways was operating just 50% of its total fleet at the moment due to the coronavirus crisis. As of now, Railways is operating 908 mail or express trains as compared to 1,800 trains pre-COVID pandemic, he said. "This is 50% of the total mail or express trains," he said. The CEO said 20 special clone trains are running as of now on the routes with higher demands.
Yadav further said that in addition, 566 train services were operated as festival special trains from October 20 to November 30. He also said that 238 services of the Kolkata Metro were started in July, while 843 services of suburban services started in November. According to Yadav, 2,773 Mumbai suburban services were being operated as of now.
Of the 908 trains currently running, 460 are running at 100% occupancy, 400 are running at an occupancy between 50% to 100%, 32 trains operating at less than 50% and 16 trains running with less than 30% occupancy.
Highlighting the freight services, the Railway Board chairman said the national transporter loaded 109.68 million tonnes in November as compared to 100.96 million tonnes in the same period last year.
In this period, Indian Railways earned Rs 10657.66 crore from freight loading which is also Rs 449.79 crore (4%) higher as compared to last year's earnings for the same period (Rs 10207.87 crore).
Speaking on the bullet train project, Yadav said that the Railways has got all the requisite wildlife, forestry and coastal regulation zone clearances in Gujarat and Maharashtra for the 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail Corridor.
"Requisite wildlife, forestry and coastal regulation zone clearances in Gujarat and Maharashtra have been obtained. Out of 1,651 utilities, 1070 have been shifted for the High Speed Train Corridor," he said.
Yadav also said that the Railways has got 67% of the land required for the bullet train project. While in Gujarat, he said, 825 hectare out of 956 hectare have been acquired, which is 86%, in Maharashtra, 97 hectare out of 432 hectare of land has been acquired which is only 22% of the total land required.
Seven hectare out of eight hectare land has been acquired in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, he said.