CAG raps Rlys for ‘ill-conceived’ operating ratio

| | New Delhi

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has rapped Indian Railways for projecting an “ill-conceived” operating ratio (OR) which runs contradictory to the national transporter’s claims of an improving financial health. The country’s top auditor has also revealed several lapses in maintenance plans of the tracks and other safety measures and said that railways needs to strengthen track safety measures.

The CAG in its report has pointed that the OR of the Railways during the financial year 2016-17 would have further deteriorated to 99.54 per cent against the reported 96.5 per cent, had the actual amount of Rs 400.25 billion towards pension payments been incorporated in its accounts instead of Rs 350 billion.

“Operating Ratio of 96.50 per cent does not reflect the true financial performance of the Railways,” said the report tabled before Parliament. Operating ratio represents railway spending over its expenditure or what it spends to gain every Rs 100. This is considered to be an indicator of the efficiency in operations of IR. OR in 2015-16 was 90.49 per cent.

“Since, Operating Ratio is a direct indicator of the working of Railways; the Ministry of Railways should also look into the various innovative ways for revenue generation and closely monitor the expenditure,” the report, which was tabled in the Parliament on Tuesday, said.

CAG further indicated that Railways needs to revisit the passenger and other coaching tariffs so as to recover the cost of operations in a phased manner and reduce its losses in its core activities.

The audit covered the period from April 1, 2016, to 31 March 2017, focusing on maintenance of tracks on selected 29 sections of high density network routes (HDN) and eight sections of non-HDN routes. “

Audit of 37 selected sections of the Indian Railways showed that track maintenance activities needed to be strengthened and undertaken following the laid down instructions and guidelines...Inspections were not being done as per laid down frequency by railway officials,” the report said.

The report said while in North Central Railway zone (NCR) and East Central Railway zone (ECR), maintenance plans were not prepared, South Eastern Railway zone (SER) was rectifying deficiencies on inspection and not as a preventive measure as is the norm.

It added patrol men were not equipped with any communication equipment to report any failure, fracture or damage immediately from the sections where they have been observed. “Audit noticed shortfalls and deficiencies in inspections carried put at different levels...Testing of rails using Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) machines was not carried out as per the prescribed norms,” the report stated.

The audit noticed 274 cases of rail fractures and 465 cases of weld fractures during 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 in the selected zones. During this time seven accidents occurred due to rail fractures. The report also stated that that there was shortage of staff in different safety categories responsible for track maintenance ranging from nine to 22 per cent in different railway zones.



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