Indian Railways has decided to resume its special parcel van trains to guarantee uninterrupted flow of essential commodities in the country during the ongoing lockdown to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. By suspending passenger trains from March 22, the Railways had also by default suspended parcel vans attached to them, which carry perishable items, mostly daily essential needs like vegetables, dairy items, and fish.

Railway officials said while eight parcel specials trains was being run by the railways, 20 more routes are being planned. They said it was necessary to resume parcel van services because essential commodities were in short supply in local markets as most of the labour engaged in loading, unloading had returned to their villages owing to the lockdown.

With ample availability of parcel vans, sitting-cum-luggage rakes and locomotives because of the suspension of passenger services, railways will now run such vans on scheduled timelines on identified routes. Lack of traffic on tracks also makes it easy to operate parcel vans across routes speedily.

“Ensuring quick nationwide transportation of goods and essential commodities, including medicines, medical equipment, masks, food Items, Railways will run Special Parcel Trains & fulfil the citizens’ requirements,” Railways Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.

Railways has invited bookings for these parcel vans which will transport essential items like medical supplies, medical equipment, along with carrying food in small parcel sizes. Respective divisions are asked to coordinate with local district administration and ensure deployment of labourers at parcel depots and goods-shed to ensure smooth loading and unloading of parcel vans.

Northern Railway has already identified New Delhi-Gauhati, New Delhi-Mumbai, New Delhi-Kalyan, New Delhi-Howrah, Chandigarh-Jaipur, and Moga-Chhangsari routes. The railway operator will run parcel special trains to carry small quantities of essential items like dairy products, medical equipments and medicines, groceries, edible oil, other food items.

Southern Railway has also distinguished and would run parcel trains on Coimbatore-Patel Nager (Delhi region), Coimbatore-Rajkot, Coimbatore-Jaipur, and Salem-Bathinda routes.

The move to run special parcel trains also comes as a huge blessing for the e-commerce companies who can now ferry their products on these special vans.

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