he Palakkad Division of the Southern Railway has executed considerable amount of maintenance of tracks and other installations during April-November this year compared to previous years in view of increased train accidents in the country.
Though the Railways is caught between passengers’ expectations of punctuality and ensuring safe running of trains, it has given priority to the latter so that passengers travel safe, Palakkad’s Divisional Railway Manager Naresh Lalwani has said. Mr. Lalwani told that safe running of trains requires regular and proper maintenance of fixed assets, including track, overhead electrical installations, and signalling installations, which require no trains in the section. Maintenance is undertaken under a tight schedule in view of inadequate maintenance margins between trains in the present timetable.
While tracks have to be renewed once in 20 or 30 years, deep screening of track ballast is to be done once in 10 years and rebuilding of bridges, maintenance of overhead electrical installations, testing of signalling installations, and de-stressing of rails are to be done as and when required. Monthly programmes are prepared to undertake maintenance works providing for blocks for certain hours entailing regulation and partial cancellation of some trains. Despite attempts to cause the least disturbance, punctuality is affected to an extent.
More works this year
Mr. Lalwani said 47.443 km track underwent through rail renewal in 2017-18 (96% of last two years), thorough sleeper renewal was undertaken for 50.263 km in 2017-18 (675% of last two years), thorough screening of ballast on plain track was undertaken on 59.856 km (42% of last two years), thorough cleaning of ballast on points and crossings was done on 15 km (30% of last two years), and de-stressing of rails was done for 67.962 km (39% of last two years). Through rail renewal involves replacement of both the rails of the track, thorough sleeper replacement involves sleeper replacement, and thorough screening of ballast involves cleaning of ballast to clear dust and muck to improve cushioning effect.
In the remaining period of 2017-18, more works would be undertaken, reducing arrears of maintenance works. As against budget allocation of â‚¹189 crore in 2017-18 for these works, the division has spent â‚¹65 crore so far.