Indian Railways has maintained its freight corridors fully functional despite the ongoing lockdown, successfully meeting the needs of the household sector and allied industry.
From the beginning of April to June 09, Indian Railways has transported 175.46 million tonnes of essential commodities through its uninterrupted 24X7 freight trains operations across the country. During the same period, Railways loaded 12.56 million tonnes of food grains as compared to 6.7 million tonnes in the same period last year.
In the month of May alone, Indian Railways transported 82.27 million tonnes of essential commodities compared to 65.14 million tonnes in April, an increase of more than 25%.
Since the country-wide lockdown which started at midnight on March 24, more than 31.90 lacs wagons carried supplies to keep Indian supply chains functional. Of these, more than 17.81 lacs wagons carried essential commodities like food grains, salt, sugar, milk, edible oil, onions, fruits and vegetables, petroleum products, coal, fertilisers, etc. throughout the country.
In order to fill the vital need for transportation of essential items like medical supplies, medical equipment, food, etc. in small parcel sizes, Indian Railways is also running time-tabled Special Parcel Vans on select routes, to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential items.
From March 21 before lockdown began to June 09, a total of 3,861 special parcel trains were operated by Indian Railways of which 3,755 were time-tabled trains. 1,37,030 tonnes of consignment were carried by these parcel trains.
The national transporter has made parcel special trains available for quick transportation by e-commerce entities and other customers including state governments. Zonal Railways are regularly identifying and notifying routes for these parcel special trains. Presently, these trains are being operated on 96 routes, which include:
- Regular connectivity between major cities of the country, viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.
- Connectivity from state-capitals/important cities to all parts of that particular state.
- Ensuring connectivity to the Northeastern part of the country.
- Supply of milk and dairy products from surplus regions such as Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh to high demand regions.
- Supply of other essential items (agricultural inputs, medicines, medical equipment, etc.) from producing regions to other parts of the country.
Indian Railways staff are working at various good sheds, stations and control offices on 24/7 basis to ensure that the supply of essential items do not get affected. Locomotive pilots and guards are efficiently running the trains. Key maintenance staff of track, signaling, overhead equipment, locomotives, coaches and wagons are maintaining the infrastructure in good fettle to ensure smooth running of trains.
The Control Room set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to de-escalate issues faced by Zonal Railways in goods train operations through Railway officers on real-time basis is also aiding the endeavour to ensure availability of essential commodities.