New timetable for passenger trains may scrap 600 mail and express trains, do away with 10,200 halts in India

A migrant looking through window after boarding a bus in Kolkata on May 10. (Photo: PTI). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW DELHI, Oct 16, 2020, ToI. The “zero-based” timetable for all passenger trains, which is likely to see many firsts including the dropping of nearly 600 mail/express trains and doing away with about 10,200 halts including night halts, would be notified in the next couple of months, The Times of India reported.

As per the plan, around 360 passenger trains would be upgraded as mail/express trains and 120 mail/ express trains would be upgraded to super fast trains category. Sources said the railway ministry is finalising the plan and would be notified soon.

Railway board CEO and chairman V K Yadav told reporters on Thursday that the new system will start as and when the national transporter resumes normal operation of trains. “I cannot give a specific timeline at this point of time due to the continuing Covid situation. It will depend on when we resume the normal services,” he added.

TOI on July 5 had first reported how the new system would result in reduction in the number of passenger trains and halts. This change will also mean the schedule and frequency of all earlier time-tabled passenger trains will be rewritten. Yadav had told TOI on July 15 that the plan being prepared with the help of IIT, Mumbai was also aimed at introducing the concept of “dedicated corridor” or exclusive time slots for operating freight trains and also for maintenance.

The new initiative is likely to help improve the railways’ financial health as there will be significant cut in the expenses. The railways has been making huge losses on account of the passenger segment and the national transporter has been frantically trying to improve its revenue.

Sources said the railways would also do away with the practice of link express train service, which is also known as slip coaches or sectional carriages. These coaches are detached from the train at a station on way to its destination and these are later re-attached to another train to take the passengers to their destination. The railways plans to run separate trains rather than continuing the link service.

Another major highlight of the zero-based timetable would be a change in the departure and arrival time of trains. Officials said the focus will be to avoid odd hours such as late at night which cause huge inconvenience to passengers and visitors.

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