SSundar wrote:One hopes that IR is soon able to get rid of license-quota systems such as tatkal. These are artifacts of severe supply constraints and possibly the lack of a fully real time reservation and capacity management system. As an "IT Superpower", the latter should be an easily solvable problem. The former is a really bad one. The entire IR organization needs to get much better at demand analysis and infuse agile decision making to move trains around to meet the demand.
Tatkal is actually a system of utilizing a scare resource to generate more revenue. It's not too different from what airlines do - all their seats are like tatkal. Airlines have of course taken it a step further with dynamic pricing, and IR is slowly following suit.
As Sachin saar said, the railways have a lot of data about travel patterns, and do respond to it by introducing special trains for "clear extra rush". The problem is the track capacity (not going there again since Sachin saar covered it), and also constraints of rolling stock. IR has very few coaches lying around the network that can immediately be pressed into service. All the coaches in operation are fully utilized - do you know every train has an elaborate chain of operation and maintenance, along with innovations like "rake sharing arrangement" to distribute maintenance load and maximize utilization? There is a reason IR's coaches and locos have a codal life of 30 years, and actually run that long. The answer is maintenance, which most people forget. Contrast this to the life of an average city bus in Chennai , 3 years within a single city and the bus is wheezing. There is another reason for this long life: necessity is the mother of invention. Every coach turned out of the coach factories is already spoken for by a long list, and there are very few spare coaches that can be assembled into a functional rake. Keep in mind that there are around 65K operational passenger coaches, which need pit lines for maintaining each one of them.
Let me explain with an example. The Karnataka express arrives in Bengaluru in the afternoon hours, around 13:00. The return train to New Delhi leaves by 19:00 or so, a gap of 6 hours. Now, considering that the incoming train has performed a journey of more than 2000 km, the rake needs elaborate maintenance that takes more than 6 hours. So the same rake cannot be sent back as the outgoing train in the evening. So need a different rake for the evening, while sending the incoming rake back the next day. But due to space and resource constraints (a: need to park the rake for almost 30 hours till the next day, and b: there is always a sever shortage of rakes), IR simply sends this incoming rake to Chennai that night (dep ~2300) as the Chennai mail. Its own pairing train, the incoming Bengaluru mail arrives in Bengaluru (SBC) the next morning around 0500. This rake is cleaned, checked for maintenance, and then sent out in the evening as the Karnataka express to New Delhi.
The above is only a simple example and can be tweaked for even better utilization. Where possible, IR has done that, subject to operational constraints like track availability, etc.
The story of locos is even more stark: many passenger trains are provided with goods locos due to shortages. And loco numbers are nothing to sneeze at: 5K electric and 6K diesels. Then why these shortages? Due to extreme demand, and not enough financial muscle to ramp up manufacturing to meet the demand. This in turn is due to successive ministers using IR as a political cash cow and saddling it with its pet projects. My fingers are crossed hoping that Mr. Prabhu can pull off a second consecutive budget without new trains.
In summary, you have a point about efficient resource management, and I am saying IR is aware of the need for it, but cannot do beyond a point due to severe operational constraints.
Sachin wrote:I chose the example of KL, because this is one whine I hear every time (in the news paper). Infact my aim is to meet the journalist who writes such a whine story, and ask him if he sees an alternative (after fully understanding how IR operates, including signal working, power and crew management).
Saar, then you'll be accused of being intolerant to the journalist's right to write whatever he wants, logic be damned