As per data shared by the government, the number of trains cancelled due to various reasons increased by more than 3 times between 2014 and 2016. It has to be noted government shared different numbers in Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha.
Delay & Cancellation of trains during winter has always been a huge challenge for Indian Railways. Data indicates that the number of cancelled trains has increased by more than 3 times between 2014 and 2016. The data on total number of trains running per day is not available to understand the percentage of cancellations.
Number of Cancelled trains increased by over 3 times in 3 years
The total number of cancelled trains has increased by more than 3 times between 2014 and 2016. From 2679 cancelled trains in 2014, the number reached 9235 in 2016. This is increase of about 250%. On average, 7 trains were cancelled per day in 2014 and this has increased to 25 trains per day in 2016. In fact, the greatest increase was seen in 2015 where the number of cancelled trains increased by over 200% compared to the previous year. In 2017 also, 4409 trains were cancelled till the month of June.
On the other hand, the number of diverted trains remained more or less the same between 2014 and 2016. In 2014, 4056 trains were diverted. The number of trains diverted was 3585 in 2015 and 4048 in 2016.
Main reason for cancellation different in each year
The major reason for cancellation of trains was not found to be uniform across the years. In 2014, weather (fog etc.) was the reason for 38% cancellations and non-availability of rakes was responsible for 42% cancellations. In 2015, 52% cancellations were because of the non-availability of rakes while only 27% were due to weather. Whereas in 2016, 47% cancellations were due to weather and only 27% due to the non-availability of rakes. In each of these years, both these reasons accounted for more than 70% of the cancellations. Another concerning aspect is the enormous increase in cancellation of trains due to agitations and law & order issues. From just 1% in 2014, this accounted for 12% of the cancellations in 2016.
Two different numbers reported by the Government in LS & RS
Factly had reported earlier about the discrepancy in the communal incidents data maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs & the NCRB. Looks like the issue is not limited to MHA. The Ministry of Railways reported two different numbers in response to questions in the Lok Sabha & the Rajya Sabha respectively, about cancellation of trains. In response to a question in the Lok Sabha in 2016, the Ministry of Railways reported that 8517 trains were cancelled in 2015. However, in response to another question in the Rajya Sabha in 2017, the ministry reported that 8605 trains were cancelled in 2015. Even the number of trains cancelled due to various reasons don’t add up. In the Lok Sabha, the government said that 2346 trains were cancelled in 2015 due to bad weather & cyclones, whereas in the Rajya Sabha, the government reported a number of more than 3000.
Such discrepancies raise serious questions about the credibility & accuracy of data provided by the government. It also does not augur well especially when Railways plans to be more technology driven and there are discrepancies in basic data.