In a move that is going to come as a huge relief for rail passengers and that is going to make train delays a thing of the past, Indian railways have decided to come down hard on officials if there is any deviation from schedule and such officials will be denied promotions. According to news reports, Rail Minister Piyush Goyal has issued a stern warning to the heads of zonal railways that any delay in services will hurt their appraisal proportionately. He has given them a month to improve punctuality.
Piyush Goyal reportedly lashed out at zonal general managers last week in an internal meeting. He made it clear that no one can take the excuse of ongoing maintenance work in order to hide their abysmal performance as far as punctuality is concerned. In the last fiscal year, 30 per cent of the trains were running late on the entire network, punctuality has not picked up even during this summer season. In what shows Goyal’s firm commitment in making railways punctual and an efficient mode of transportation, General Manager, Northern Railway faced the ire of Piyush Goyal. The region has recorded an abysmal performance with 49.59 per cent punctuality, a dip of more than 32 per cent compared to the previous year. This was followed by the Northeast Frontier Railway and the Eastern Railway with 27 per cent and 26 per cent fall in the punctuality performance respectively.
As per the report, Goyal shed light on how misusing resources have led to delays. He even recalled an incident where engineers wasted Rs. 25 lakh in an unsuccessful attempt to change a girder at a prominent railway station in Delhi. He asked the GMs to ensure accountability and made it clear that such wasteful expenditure will not be tolerated. Goyal was particularly irked about how delays were happening during the holiday season when train travel is in high demand.
The minister is not making any empty threats and he has even issued a deadline within which the GMs are required to enhance the punctuality performance in their respective zones. According to a source who was present at the meeting, Goyal made it clear that if by June 30, there is no improvement, the respective GMs will not be considered for promotion. He made it clear that performance ratings will depend on where they figure on the delay list. The lower they are, the worse for them. Thus, whether GMs will progress further in their careers will wholly depend on their performance levels. This is something that will act as a motivating factor to perform more efficiently.
Piyush Goyal took on the mantle of handling railways at a time when it was facing criticism, however unfair, for rail accidents. It was Goyal who took railways to new heights by taking the total number of accidents down to 2-figure mark for the first time till date. Thus, he made railways a safe and reliable mode of transport. Railways have achieved the best safety record under the current minister. However, maintenance work to ensure safety was bound to cause some hindrance as far as punctuality is concerned. Even Goyal expected some decline in punctuality performance but this abysmal punctuality performance is not what he was expecting. The railway minister having already taken railways to a new height by making it a safe mode of transport is now working hard towards making it a punctual and efficient mode of transport as well. By making railways, a performance-oriented organization, the minister might just bring about the biggest reform in the railways till date.