An extensive mid-year performance review conducted by the Railway Board threw up several surprises.
The review evaluated zonal performance over a wide range of parameters, with the highest weights allocated to Originating Freight and Passenger Traffic performance. The review was conducted for the first six months of the current financial year, from April 2019 to September 2019.
Overall Zonal Performance
Eastern Railway (ER), Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) and North Eastern Railway (NER) have emerged as the zones with the highest percentage of marks. They scored 66.74%, 65.88% and 64.33% respectively.
On the other hand, Central Railway (CR), Northern Railway (NR) and North Central Railway (NCR) scored the poorest, at 51.33%, 52%, and 54.14% respectively.
Freight and Passenger Originating Targets Missed
Most zones have missed their proportionate targets for originating goods or passenger traffic on a consistent basis over the past several months. As a result, revenue targets were also missed by as much as 36% for large zones like NR.
Important freight loading zones like South East Central Railway and South Central Railway missed their proportionate targets by high as 14%. Both zones receive a significant chunk of their freight earnings from coal and iron ore haulage. Reduced power plant demand due to extended monsoons and economic pessimism may have contributed to the overall reduction in freight traffic.
Freight Loading Performance (In Million Tonnes)
|Zone||April-Sep 2018||Target for April-Sep 2019||Actuals for April-Sep 2019||Change v/s LY (%)||Change v/s Target (%)|
Similarly, most zones not only missed their targets but also saw a net decline in passenger traffic compared to the same period in 2018-19.
Central Railway and Western Railway saw the highest declines of 10.5% and 14.9% in passenger traffic as compared to the previous financial year. It is unclear why the two zones catering to significant urban populations saw these declines.
Only Eastern Railway and NER mustered a significant increase in traffic compared to the previous year’s numbers at 3.5% and 2.9% respectively.
Originating Passenger Target (In Millions)
|Zone||April-Sep 2018||Target for April-Sep 2019||Actual Performance||Percentage Variation against LY|
Punctuality, Average Freight Speeds Targets Missed
Most zones were unable to meet their punctuality improvement targets for the first half of the year. Disruptions caused by an extended and above-average monsoon season this year may have contributed.
Targets for improvement in average freight train speeds were missed by all zones by wide margins. The only exception was South Central Railway, exceeding targets by 5.6% to achieve an average speed of 24.1 kph for the period under review.
Capital Expenditure Targets Exceeded, but Doubling, Electrification Targets Lag
On the positive side, all zones except North Central Railway exceeded targets on capital expenditure, suggesting infrastructure upgrades continue to get priority.
However, the commissioning of new projects or upgrades has not kept pace with capex spending. Monsoon rains were cited as a reason for delays in the progress of multiple projects.
Capital Expenditure in crores
|Zone||April-Sep 2019 Target||Actual Spending||Percentage Change|
Electrification Performance in kilometres
|Zone||April-Sep 2019 Electrification Targets||Actual April-Sep 2019 Performance||Variation|
Zones Exceeded Targets for Track Renewal, Reduction in Asset Failures
Most zones exceeded their targets for track renewal work in April-September 2019. However, mixed results were seen in other maintenance areas like Deep Screening works.
Overall improvement was seen in asset failure rates, including rail, locomotive, OHE and signal failures in the April-September 2019 period.
Zones also performed well on parameters like training of employees but didn’t do as well at achieving targets for disposal of employee grievances.
With targets for several metrics being missed by significant margins, the Ministry and the Railway Board are likely to push harder to make up for the lacklustre performance in the first half of the year.
Image credit: Siddharth Singh Rajput