When it comes to punctuality and efficiency, Indian Railways doesn’t exactly have a satisfactory track record. But that isn’t supposed to be the case with the country’s first bullet train service because they plan to take punctuality very ‘seriously’. The National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) has decided to say “sorry” to each and every passenger in the unlikely event of the train being delayed, even if by a couple of minutes.
This will be introduced on the 508-km bullet train service between Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati and Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex station. The train will run at a speed of 320 kmph and is expected to reduce the travel time between the two cities to two hours. At present, it takes seven hours by train and an hour by flight.
“We will apologise to our clients. We will also issue a public apology in the train, at stations, if we are delayed. This is the Shinkansen culture we aim to imbibe, wherein delay by even a minute or so is considered a delay. We will also explain the reasons for the delay to our passengers,” NHSRCL Managing Director Achal Khare told The Sunday Express.
The idea to introduce bullet trains in India has been inspired by Shinkansen — the high-speed railway network in Japan.
Shinkansen trains are well-known around the world for their efficiency and punctuality. The first bullet train in Japan started its operation in 1964. Since then, bullet trains have become a symbol of Japanese technological advancement and also represent the Japanese work culture.
In Japan, the average high-speed bullet train arrives at its final stop just 54 seconds behind schedule. It also includes delays caused by uncontrollable factors such as natural disasters. If the arrival of the train is delayed by five minutes or more, the passengers are given a certificate. The commuters can present this certificate to their respective employers or teachers if they are asked about the reason for being late, reports BBC News.
That’s not all. In November 2017, a rail company even apologised to passengers after a train departed 20 seconds too early.
Meanwhile, in India, punctuality of trains hit a four-year-low in 2018. According to the data collected by the Railway Board, the overall punctuality till November 2018 fell to 73% compared to 79.30%, 79.41% and 83.37% in 2017-18, 2016-17, and 2015-16 respectively.
A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) stated that the lack of adequate infrastructure was the reason behind trains getting late. As per the report, only 101 out of 163 platforms of 15 major stations of the Indian Railways can accommodate trains with 24 or more coaches, which leads to delay in getting signals.