The dawn of a new year marks a special day. People prefer to celebrate, rejoice and start the year with something worth remembering. But deciding to travel on new year’s eve or January 1 could prove to be a wrong choice I say this because I happened to travel to my home from Delhi two days before the new year by train.
Throughout the year, Indian Railways is rarely ever punctual. When winter arrives in December, north India gets engulfed in fog and this badly affects transportation. Several flights are cancelled and roads are also difficult to travel through due to poor visibility. But in the case of the railways, it’s more than just a disaster.
Every year, during the winters, hundreds of trains are delayed and cancelled. I was supposed to board my train on December 30, 2017 from Anand Vihar Terminal in New Delhi to Barauni Junction in Bihar. The train was supposed to depart at 5:00 PM on Saturday, but was postponed to 2:30 AM on Sunday – yes, around 9 hours late!
There was heavy fog around Kanpur which further delayed my train. I reached my destination on January 1, 2018 at around 8:00 AM – exactly 24 hours late. The journey from Anand Vihar Terminal in New Delhi to Barauni Junction in Bihar should ideally take around 15 hours to complete but it took me around 29 hours.
It wasn’t only my train that was late. Premium express trains like Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express, running on the same day and the same route, were also late. Some trains like Mahananda Express going to north-east India remain cancelled throughout the month.
It raises some very pertinent question. Do the people travelling by the Indian Railways have to suffer every year due to issues like fog? Why can’t the railways, which has been running for more than a century, overcome issues like fog which are bound to occur every year? Isn’t it the right time to focus on the late trains running throughout the country than bringing in bullet trains for a specific group and a specific area?
Every year during the winter, trains get late by a day and many others are cancelled. The Indian Railways only renders an oral apology through the announcements made on the railway platforms.
Issues like fog are bound to occur. The railways have got more than enough time to overcome this issue. We are on our way to bringing in advanced technologies like bullet trains. But it will be a long time before bullet trains are a reality throughout the country. Moreover, the majority in the country can’t afford the high prices of a bullet train ride. The government should prioritise passenger trains catering to the majority of the population who have to travel thousands of kilometres daily.
I would certainly choose not to travel by train if it were an option. But for the millions among the population who travel daily by trains, there is no substitute. When at home someone asks me about trains, I love to remark that my train was late for a day, a month and a year.