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Fog Delays: Railways to Use Clone Trains
Jan 05, 2015

Even as the north Indian fog continues to throw rail traffic out of schedule every year in winters, India Railways has devised a plan to provide at least partial relief to the lakhs of commuters who take the train services daily. A new strategy of rolling out clone trains is being tried this time to ensure that popular trains at least depart on time even if they run way behind schedule due to low visibility and congestion.

For a train to depart on time, it needs to arrive in time to undergo cleaning, maintenance and refurbishment for the mandatory turnaround. However, in the current scenario, trains arrive hopelessly late, delaying the return trip. Now, Railways is trying to piece together extra rakes (trains) to clone a train for timely departure.

For instance, an extra rake was turned into Bhubaneshwar Rajdhani so that the train departs on time. This was done even as the real Rajdhani was still on its way back to Delhi from Bhubaneshwar. The strategy required extra catering apparatus including an extra group of staff to man the train, which was somehow arranged.

Railway believes the plan, if it works the way it has been conceived, might give partial relief to passengers, who won’t have to spend hours in the cold waiting for their trains to depart. The Railways has decided to keep 30 pairs of trains—usually the ones worst affected by fog—cancelled for the fog season, starting December 31. The plan is to use those rakes to clone other trains and roll out as many on-time departures as possible.

Notably, the new strategy is a modification of the original plan to use ‘clone trains’ and roll out an extra train identical to a popular train to cater to high demand. That idea still under consideration.

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