The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has noted that the Indian Railways does not calculate its locomotive requirements based on needs, but based on production capacity. It has also flagged several issues in the production and maintenance of locomotives.
Indian Railways spent Rs. 52,198 crores on the production of locomotives between 2012-2018, according to CAG data.
The CAG audit was conducted for the period from April 2012 to March 2018, but also takes note of issues found outside this timeframe.
No Methodology to Assess Requirements
In Report 2 of 2020 ‘Assessment and Utilisation of Locomotives’, the CAG found that there is ‘no structured methodology’ to assess locomotive requirements. “This has led to more numbers of diesel locos in the system than required,” the report concluded.
Delays were observed in the finalization of the three-year production programme as a result of consensus on methodology and parameters.
Zones and Production Units were not involved in the assessment of requirements, according to the CAG. Growth rates of freight and passenger traffic were also not factored in.
Issues were also found with the allocation of locomotives to zones and sheds. CAG noted that locos were allotted without “keeping in mind their requirements and infrastructure available for maintenance,” resulting in underutilization.
Locomotive Production and Quality Issues
Indian Railways has four internal loco production units and two units as part of joint ventures with Wabtec and Alstom.
In its audit, the CAG found that a project worth Rs 296 crores to augment production capacity at Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) was completed in February 2018 with a 37% cost overrun.
A similar project for production capacity augmentation was approved for Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) in 2011, targeted for completion by December 2012. However, only 45% of the physical work was completed by March 2019. This work was targeted for completion by December 2019, noted the CAG report.
The work of capacity augmentation of DLW was completed within five months from the targeted date of completion. However, works for augmentation of capacity of CLW and ELAAU for production of electric locos were running way behind schedule.Comptroller and Auditor General of India in Report 2 of 2020
In the fiscal year 2019-20, CLW produced 431 locomotives. The West Bengal based unit has also enhanced its production capacity to 500 locomotives per annum this month.
CAG also pointed out lapses in manufacturing of locos, stating that a massive 46 per cent of new locos failed within 100 days of commissioning.
The report concluded that “Uses of defective material in loco manufacturing, bad workmanship in handling etc . were the main causes of failure of newly commissioned locos.”
Maintenance and Quality Control Issues
Large delays were also noticed in commissioning of locos by sheds after being received from the factory.
Audit observed that 18 per cent diesel locos and 13 per cent electric locos were commissioned after a delay of one month from the date of their receipt in the loco sheds. The average delays in commissioning of diesel and electric loco were 75 days and 33 days per loco after allowing a grace period of 30 days.CAG on commissioning of new locomotives by sheds
Lack of infrastructure and homing of locomotives beyond the shed’s capacities were causes pointed out by the CAG in its report.
The auditors also found problems with maintenance of locos. Lack of quality control, inferior material, poor supervision and internal controls were flagged. These flaws resulted in out of course repairs of more than 17,500 diesel and 22,000 electric locos, the audit found.
In its recommendations, the CAG has asked Indian Railways to devise a system for assessing requirements of locomotives. It has also suggested that Indian Railways look at augmentation of electric loco sheds and examine the need for upgrading of diesel loco sheds. The auditor has also suggested improvement in quality of maintenance to reduce unscheduled failures and repairs of locos.
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