2020: A glimpse of life without trains as Railways battled odds to keep India’s lifeline running

2020: A glimpse of life without trains as Railways battled odds to keep India’s lifeline running

December 25, 2020 Off By admin

The yr 2020 confirmed India a glimpse of how life could be without trains. As the coronavirus lockdown was introduced on March 24, the Railways for the primary time in its 167-year-old historical past shut down all its providers.

People stranded throughout the nation and who normally seemed to the Railways to ferry them residence, have been left without their lifeline. Some, just like the 1000’s of migrant employees, took to the streets selecting to stroll to their locations.

As the Railways directed its assets in the direction of carrying necessities throughout the nation, lakhs of tickets have been cancelled through the summer season holidays — one thing unheard of in rail historical past.

It was on May 1 that the wheels of trains began chugging once more. This time, to ferry migrant employees residence. Between May 1 and August 30, the Railways ferried 63.15 such employees residence throughout 23 states in over 4,000 Shramik Special trains, not solely bringing enormous aid to the stranded migrants, but additionally hope for the others that their lifeline was down, however not out.

It was, nonetheless, the Shramik Special trains which noticed the Railways being criticised by the Opposition events over the fares being charged from the migrant employees. While the Railways mentioned that it didn’t cost a penny from the employees and spent greater than Rs 2,000 crore on their transportation, the politics over the difficulty continued.

“What do trains imply for me? They imply hope, pleasure and in addition a way of routine. For 25 years, I’ve taken the identical route residence to Bihar to be with my household after months of being away from them. That’s what they imply to me, they get me to my household.

“Every year, I would book tickets around the same time to go home. This year it did not happen and I feel a sense of loss that something that was part of life could very easily be taken away,” mentioned Jitender Kumar, a safety guard working in Noida.

Currently, the Railways is working 1,089 particular practice providers, whereas Kolkata Metro was running 60 per cent of its providers, Mumbai suburban was running on 88 per cent and 50 per cent of Chennai suburban providers have been in operation.

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Railway Board Chairman and CEO VK Yadav agreed that it was a tricky yr for the nationwide transporter, but additionally highlighted the way it innovated and used the disaster as a chance.

“This year has been of grit and victories for Indian Railways. Faced with daunting and unprecedented COVID-related challenges, Indian Railways has not only been able to keep the national supply chain running and move millions of people back home in most adverse circumstances, but has also been able to realise the potential of its workforce, which driven to the wall has come out with innovative solutions,” Yadav informed PTI.

While passenger motion dipped leading to an estimated loss of 87 per cent as in contrast to final yr, the Railways’ made drastic adjustments of their freight motion, introducing parcel providers, carrying necessities like milk, medicines and even ventilators.

The innovation was to realise that if the Railways couldn’t transfer passengers freely, it may transfer freight as an alternative.
Business Development Units (BDUs) have been arrange at Railway Board, Zonal Railway and Divisional ranges. Multi-disciplinary groups from BDUs have been reaching out to clients to entice new enterprise. It additionally launched time-tabled parcel providers to present dependable providers to courier providers, e-commerce firms.

The Railways additionally launched eight Kisan Rail Services to allow farmers to ship their produce throughout the nation with enhanced pace and diminished price.

With all its concentrate on freight motion, the Railways’ freight staged a restoration in September by registering a document loading of 102 Million Tonnes (MT), which is the best ever loading for the month of September in any yr. The momentum in freight loading continued and progress of 15 per cent and 9 per cent has been obtained within the subsequent months of October and November respectively.

With passenger trains off the tracks, the Railways doubled the pace of freight trains from 24 kmph a yr in the past to 46 kmph which suggests half the time taken for sending merchandise. It additionally accomplished over 350 important and lengthy pending main bridge and monitor works.

While the yr noticed no main accidents, the Railways household bore the ache of 30,000 staff contaminated with coronavirus and noticed greater than 700 frontline employees breathe their final.

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While it didn’t carry passengers throughout the nation on holidays, it despatched lakhs of migrant employees residence to their family members. While it didn’t manufacture state-of-the-art Train 18s, the Railways produced greater than 5000 COVID care coaches. Its manufacturing items supplemented the federal government’s efforts by producing masks, sanitisers and even overalls to be used by railway staff.

“The Railways used COVID as a challenge and has been able usher in an unprecedented growth in development of infrastructure, innovation, capacity expansion of network, freight diversification and transparency matters. Railways has this crisis as an opportunity to lay the foundation for future development and next level of travelling experience for passengers,” mentioned Yadav.

Looking ahead, he mentioned plans have been made to meet each infrastructure and visitors necessities until the yr 2050.

A National Rail Plan (NRP) 2030 has been developed with a view to develop infrastructure by 2030 to cater to the visitors necessities up to 2050. Based on the NRP, a Vision 2024 doc has been ready to develop infrastructure by 2024 to improve modal share of Railways in freight transportation to greater than 40 per cent and to cater to the visitors necessities up to 2030.

However, there are two key points on which the Railways is at loggerheads not solely with its personal officers and unions, but additionally political events.

While in 2020 the dimensions of the Railway Board was diminished and it has been reoriented on useful traces, the choice to unify the eight organised Group ‘A’ providers into one service below the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS) has drawn quite a bit of flak. The modalities for recruitment of officers into IRMS and unification of the prevailing providers are being labored out.

Another subject on the Railways’ choice to introduce 151 fashionable passenger trains operated by personal gamers over 109 routes has resulted in each unions and Opposition events accusing the nationwide transporter of promoting nationwide belongings.

While Kumar doesn’t perceive the implications of both the reorganisation of cadres or running of personal trains, he does, nonetheless, know {that a} glimpse of a life without trains meant moments away from family members.

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