25th March, 2020
Passenger train services may be suspended during the Corona lockdown, but freight trains continue to operate uninterrupted to maintain uninterrupted supplies of essentials. Thousands of railway employees involved in the handling of goods trains are busy in carrying out their duties with complete anti-Corona anti-wire measures including social distance. The railways has appealed to all the state governments not to obstruct the movement of these over-staffed employees due to lockdown and curfew and cooperate with them in these moments of difficulty.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Railways expressed regret over the fact that all the media reports about the railways seemed as if the rail traffic had stopped completely. It's not like this. As part of the lockdown, the railways have ceased operating passenger trains till 31 March, while the operation of most of the freight trains for the transportation of freight and essential goods is going on unabated. Most of the railway employees related to them are also doing their work and going on duty as before.
However, due to the shutdown due to the shutdown of industrial and commercial activities, the freight is not moving as before, but the necessary freight trains are being operated to ensure the supply of essential commodities. All efforts are being made by the Railways to maintain the supply of essential commodities and the goods trains are operated round the clock, seven days.
Even in this phase of lockdown in the states, the employees in various Goods sheds, stations and control offices of the Railways are carrying out their regular duties as fully as possible. The work of loading essential goods in freight trains, transporting them from one place to another and unloading them at terminal stations is going on. The proof of this is that a total of 891 rakes were loaded on 23 March. Of these, 563 racks were related to essential commodities like cereals, salt, edible oil, sugar, milk, fruits and vegetables, onions, coal and petroleum products. The remaining 328 include 121 iron ore, 48 steel, 25 cement, 28 fertilizer racks and 106 containers.
For these, proper coordination arrangements have been made with the State Governments for transportation by road so that essential commodities reach the consumption centers on time without any delay. The rates of demurrage and warfare charges have also been reduced by half till April 30. At the same time, the validity period of the policy related to goods and containers has also been extended. During this time no haulage charge will be levied on the traffic of empty containers.
With the free time of loading-unloading of wagons, it has also been decided to double the period of removal of goods from railway premises by 31 March. An Emergency Freight Control has also been created in the Railway Ministry to monitor the goods traffic, where Railway Board officials are ensuring smooth movement of essential goods. On normal days, the railway handles about 9,000 freight trains daily.