Rail travel to eastern India - including Kolkata, parts of Bihar and Assam - could be the most gruelling experience as maximum delays occur on these routes. A total of 59.60 per cent of the delayed trains in the month of May were those that plied to the eastern parts of the country, according to a report citing official data on the Indian Express. Across the country, a total of 19,450 had been delayed last month. While planned work in the region has been cited as the reason for the delays, there were also operational glitches and track problems.
The lack of punctuality was common for even the best of trains, including Rajdhani with its punctuality rate sliding from 8.61 per cent to 78 per cent as compared to last year in the month of May. Trains in northern and eastern India usually suffer delays during the winters when fog is dense. Delays could also occur in other months of the year due to possible maintenance work and many factors. However, the punctuality of trains in the month of May seems to be particularly bad.
Among the trains that seems to be plagued by delays are Shramjeevi Express (New Delhi to Rajgir), Magadha Express (Islampur in Bihar), Northeast Express (New Delhi to Guwahati). In fact, the problem does not seem to have ended in May. This month too, the Northeast Express ran 14 hours late on June 8, while the Anand Vihar-Bhagalpur Garib Rath Express ran 10 hours late .
According to the Indian Express report, there were 33 different reasons cited for the delays and they included signal issues, law and order problems, and alarm chain being pulled apart from bad weather.
Railways authorities, meanwhile, seem to put the blame for the delays on the ongoing work for the expansion of Indian Railways. "Yes, there are delays. But whenever capacity augmentation work takes place, various speed restrictions come in because of which trains have to run at low speeds. It's temporary. If you see, the situation has started getting back to normal in the past two-three weeks," the paper quoted D K Gayen, general manager, East Central Railway, as saying.