Punctuality is the backbone of good business. And Jamshedpur’s favourite Steel Express is learning the lesson super fast.
In the bad books of Tatanagar passengers for running behind schedule for six months at a stretch, the express train is, finally, living up to its name.
The railway roster shows that in the past week, the train has chugged into the junction station before time twice (see chart), while on other days it has reached by 9.40pm, a significant improvement in its punctuality record. The scheduled arrival of the train at Tatanagar is 9.25pm.
On January 31, The Telegraph had dubbed Steel Express “superslow”, with the train arriving 15 to 50 minutes behind schedule on as many as 25 out of 30 days. The report had also highlighted the plight of passengers, especially women who stay in places like Telco, Adityapur, Govindpur, Mango and Kadma, which are far from the station.
Soon thereafter, chief passenger transportation manager of South Eastern Railway (SER) Mukul Jain swung into action.
Sources at the SER headquarters at Garden Reach, Calcutta, said time particulars of the train at Howrah and Tatanagar were thoroughly scrutinised and a performance target set. Later, Kharagpur and Chakradharpur railway divisions, through which the train passes before reaching Tatanagar, were directed to monitor Steel Express and ensure punctuality.
Senior divisional commercial manager of Chakradharpur K.N. Biswas confirmed the directive and development. “The Steel Superfast Express is an important train for people travelling between Tatanagar and Howrah. We are taking extra care to ensure that the train reaches its destinations on time,” the spokesperson said.
Railway sources pointed out that platform No. 1 was earmarked for the Steel Express — both for arrival and departure. But sometimes, because of the late departure of the Tata-Chapra Express, which also leaves from the same platform and around the same time (9.35pm), the Steel Express was accommodated on platform No. 2 two. This resulted in delayed arrival.
A senior railway official of Chakradharpur, who looks after operations, said that efforts were now being made to ensure that the superfast train arrives on platform No. 1.
Passengers sounded relieved.
“In the first week of February, our train reached Tatanagar around 10.15pm. Yesterday (Monday), on the other hand, the train chugged in by 9.35pm. It was a pleasant surprise,” said Abhijeet Lahiri, an employee with a private insurance company and a resident of Telco.
A co-passenger was sceptical though. “Only time will tell if the superfast train will maintain its punctuality record.”