CAG report on Railways
On September 23, 2020, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India submitted its report on Indian Railways in the Parliament. The report was tabled in both the houses of the Parliament.
The report was titled “Assessment and Utilisation of Locomotives and Production and Maintenance of LHB coaches in Indian Railways”.
Key findings of the Report
According to the report, there has been 20% increase in diesel locos between 2012 and 2018. This was mainly because, the Indian Railway Board failed to assess the requirement of electric locos. The assessment was skipped in spite of the fact that the Mission Electrification and De-Carbonisation being operated under Indian Railways has issued directives in September 2017 for 100% electrification of Railways by 2022.
It is to be noted that, this has been postponed to 2023. On September 23, 2020, the Union Minister of Railways Shri Piyush Goyal said in a written reply that railways is to complete 100% of electrification of its broad gauge by 2023. According to the minister, 63% of railway lines have been electrified in the country. Around 23,765 routes are yet to be electrified. The vacant land of Railways that is not required for immediate operational needs are to be utilised in interim period for commercial development of additional financial resources.
The report says that, the factor of increase in requirement of electric locos and simultaneous reduction in utilisation of electric locos was not considered while assessing loco requirements. The only factor considered by the Railway Board in assessing the requirement of locos was on the previous year actual production.
Around 46% of new locos failed within 100 days of commissioning. This was mainly due to defective material in manufacturing. Also, half of the electric and diesel locos failed to receive their scheduled maintenance.
Issue with LHBs
LHB is Linke Hoffmann Busch. It is a type of railway coaches. The CAG audit says that data of accidents in railways show an urgent need to switch over to LHB to ensure safety of railway passengers.
Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, only 30% of total 19,327 coaches produced were of LHB. The Raebareli Modern Coach Factory was set up for exclusive production of LHB coaches. In spite of this, between 2013-18 only 1,827 LHB coaches were manufactures.
The Railways did not have adequate facilities in their workshops for intermediate overhauling and periodical overhauling. The present production programme was not able to meet the requirement of coach production.
The Indian Railways has to replace at least 6,868 coaches in the next five years. This is because the codal life of coaches is 25 years considering passenger