Fancy a slow ride home on a super fast express - Jharkhand Swarna Jayanti running up to seven hours behind schedule, railway bosses blame track repair

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  • Published 21.05.13

The classical idiom ‘Dilli abhi door hai’ is literal irony for passengers of Jharkhand Swarna Jayanti Express.

For more than a fortnight now, the supposed super fast train linking Hatia, a station after Ranchi, to Anand Vihar Terminal in the national capital has embraced delay so much so that people have started dubbing the journey a picnic ride instead of one meant for time-bound officials and students.

In Jharkhand, the express has two routes. One wends its way through Bokaro and is scheduled to cover a distance of 1,295km in 20 hours 50 minutes. The other crosses Barkakana and is longer by 39km. The scheduled journey time is 24 hours 10 minutes.

However, on either route, the train runs late by four to seven hours while coming to Hatia from Delhi. On its return trip, the delay meter a tad surprisingly reads two to three hours. The warped schedule (see chart) defies logic, while railway officials furnish little explanation.

On May 14, Umesh Kumar had boarded the train at Anand Vihar Terminal and was supposed to reach Ranchi by 7.30pm the next day. Instead, the 26-year-old arrived in the state capital at 2am on May 16. Since he had an interview at 10am the same day, Umesh requested his father for a wee-hour pick-up. His co-passengers had little choice but to wait for daybreak.

“I should have never ever boarded this train. It is an ordeal. I had tried for a Rajdhani ride, but no travel agent promised me confirmed tickets. And now, I understand why tickets are readily available for Swarna Jayanti Express. My train reached Ranchi almost seven hours behind schedule,” the young man sounded thoroughly frustrated.

Railway officials conceded that Umesh’s story is fairly common. Jharkhand Swarna Jayanti running on schedule is indeed as rare as an ice cube in Sahara. In winters, they have a weather-made excuse — “delay due to fog”. But in summers, officials choose to clam up on the issue.

A railway official at Ranchi station said he was “unauthorised” to speak to the media, but on being insisted he attempted candour.

According to him, all Ranchi-bound trains stop at different stations for long hours to give passage to “important” trains like Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express.

“Speaking of myself, I am strictly in favour of punctuality, but trains to Hatia and Ranchi get delayed because of their source station, which is Anand Vihar Terminal. For instance, on May 14, the train that reached here seven hours late, but it had started four hours behind schedule from Delhi in the first place,” he claimed. He admitted that the late run was not restricted to just one day. “However, on the return journey, the track record is better because lines normally remain clear,” he added.

He further maintained that sitting in Ranchi no one could offer “exact and actual reasons of delay”, but one suggestion that could be proffered to higher authorities was to reduce the number of stations in such a way that Swarn Jayanti did not come in the way of important trains.

Ranchi divisional railway manager Gajanan Mallya said it was not possible for him to comment without checking details of delay. “On the Delhi route, track repair is underway at many places. Some construction work is also in progress near Allahabad. They may be causing delays. Specific reasons can be found only after studying charts.”