New Delhi: Railways is reportedly preparing to implement ‘zero-based’ time-table for all trains. This means that the schedule and frequency of the earlier time-tabled passenger trains will be revised giving the railways flexibility to reduce the number of halts of mail/express trains and some other trains as well. Earlier this year Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said that due to the coronavirus pandemic there has been a delay in implementation of the time table, but it will be implemented.

As per a recent IE report, 500 regular trains may be discontinued and 10,000 stops across the Railways’ network will be erased once the new timetable for operations is adopted. As per the national daily report, the time table is supposed to come into effect once the pandemic ends and services return to normal. Railways is aiming to increase its annual earnings by more than Rs 1,500 crore through this new timetable”.

The report mentioned that the new timetable will make room to run 15 per cent more freight trains on exclusive corridors. Also, the average speed of passenger trains is expected to increase by around 10 per cent across the network. Sources told the publication that trains with less than 50 per cent occupancy on average in a year will not find any place in the network. If needed, such trains will be merged with other, more popular trains.

The report also cited sources telling that long-distance trains will ideally not have stops within 200 km of each other unless there is a major city on the way. Officials also told the daily that a total 10,000 stops have been listed to be scratched. However, the removal will only be in respect of certain trains.

A senior official was cited saying that all passenger trains will run on a hub-and-spoke model and the “hubs” will be cities with a population of 10 lakh or more, where all long-distance trains will terminate. Smaller places will be linked to the hubs through connecting trains. “Major tourist destinations and pilgrimage centres will be classified as hubs,” the official was quoted saying. Further, suburban networks such as the Mumbai locals will not be affected by the new timetable.

While the officials did not reveal exact details, they informed that the timetable could be rolled out early next year, depending on the Covid-19 situation.