The Indian Railways will soon start making public a list of its best and worst performing trains and zones, with an aim to improve service standards by encouraging competition within the organisation. The zones and trains will be ranked on parameters such as cleanliness and punctuality, which are two longstanding issues for the railways, a top rail ministry official told ET.
This initiative is part of railway minister Piyush Goyal’s efforts to give the national transporter a performance makeover before the 2019 general elections, while also ensuring at least a 50% reduction in derailments and other accidents. The railways would make a list of the bottom and top ten trains of every zonal railways, the official said. The Indian Railways has 17 zones, which are divided further into sub-zones i.e. Divisions.
“The list would be made on the basis of housekeeping and environment, coaching standard and the punctuality of trains,” he said. “The railway minister has already put in place a monitoring team. All information related to trains and zones would be made public.”
The state-run transporter plans also to launch a mobile application for passengers that could list these trains and zones. The list will be updated regularly. The railways’ renewed priority on safety and repair of tracks and trains has hit operations badly with punctuality dropping to around 70% now from the average of 77-80%.
Goyal has told his officials to wrap up the maintenance work at the earliest to ensure at least 95% on-time performance. “There’s a renewed focus in the railway board to push the service standards immediately. We are already providing real-time updates to passengers through SMS if their train is late and are also mentioning the reason why it is late. The minister wants the functioning to be very transparent,” the official added.
The move makes perfect sense. Rail passengers can now grade customer satisfaction online after each journey. And the Railways do need to leverage big data to better track service quality. There should be much scope to explore co-branding opportunities as well. For instance, the hospitality industry would be keen to join hands with Railways for the cleanliness and upkeep of particular trains and routes. There should also be scope for players in the travel and logistics industry to tie-up with the Railways to boost performance standards and punctuality.