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News Entry# 288539
Dec 14 2016 (07:26)  Train delays likely to continue (
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Commentary/Human Interest

News Entry# 288539     
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Posted by: rdb*^  133028 news posts
A day or two of dense fog has recurrent effect over the next few weeks, say railway officials
After a spell of dense fog, the past two days in Delhi finally saw the sun and clear skies. While air traffic has not seen much impact in the last few days due to absence of dense fog, rail traffic remained badly hampered, with nearly 100 trains getting delayed by hours and thousands of passengers getting stranded at the different railway stations across Delhi-NCR.
No fog
which did not witness any fog, saw 90 Delhi-bound trains running late by two hours to 24 hours. Seventeen trains were cancelled and 44 rescheduled. Unlike air travel, which is also affected during poor visibility conditions but more or less stabilises as soon as the sun is out, rail traffic falls into a cycle of long delays that keeps continuing even after a few days of dense fog.
The reason is the large volume of trains operating in and out of Delhi, even as the rail infrastructure remains chock-a-block. A day or two of dense fog, which delays trains, has a recurrent effect over the next few weeks. Trains arriving late clog up the system and has an impact on departures as well.
Unlike most aircraft, which follow the state-of-the-art Instrument Landing System at the Delhi airport to land even in zero visibility, rail travel is years away from such technology.
The Railways has installed fog safety devices in many trains, which alert locomotive pilots about signals. However, visual navigation still plays a vital role. Train speed during fog is restricted to a maximum of 60 km per hour and trains are run at an even slower speed according to the visibility.
300 trains
Locomotive pilots also have the approval to stop a train if they are unable to see anything in front of them due to dense fog. “Safety is paramount for us and that is why trains have to be slowed down, even if it translates into huge delays,” said a Northern Railway official.
Railway stations such as the New Delhi railway station handle about 300 trains and seven lakh passengers a day. The station has 16 platforms and six washing lines. With most trains running late, the bunching of trains at the station means further delay in catering to their cleaning and maintenance.
“Once a train is late, it loses its scheduled slot. With the number of trains running late, all slots get disturbed. The heavy bunching of trains clogs up the entire system, which has a cascading effect and trains run late for days on end. We are trying to restore trains as quickly as we can. Less than 50 per cent trains are rescheduled every day. Despite the huge bunching, only a minimal number of trains that get extremely late are cancelled to correct the schedule,” he added.
The Northern Railway, however, has taken steps to reduce inconvenience to passengers by providing better food and sanitation facilities at the stations. Additional security personnel have also been deployed to maintain order at stations dealing with enormous crowding due to late arrivals and departures.
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