As the country lifts the nationwide lockdown towards the containment of COVID-19 pandemic, the freight carried by Asia’s second-largest rail transporter has also witnessed an upsurge. In May, the Indian Railways transported 82.27 million tonnes (MT) of essential commodities, which was more than 25 per cent higher MoM.
In comparison, the Railways transported 65.14 MT of essential commodities from April 1 to April 30th April.
Amidst the world’s largest lockdown, the Indian Railways strived to ensure the availability of essential commodities through its freight and parcel services. To ensure the timely delivery of essential commodities for citizens and goods vital for the energy and infrastructure sectors, Railways kept its freight corridors fully functional to successfully meet the needs of both the household sector and the industry.
On a consolidated basis, from April 1 to June 9, the Railways transported 175.46 MT of essential commodities through its uninterrupted 24x7 freight trains operations.
From March 24 – the day the nationwide lockdown was enforced – to June 9, over 3.19 million wagons carried supplies to keep the supply chain running. Of these, more than 1.781 million wagons carried essential commodities like food grains, salt, sugar, milk, edible oil, onions, fruits & vegetables, petroleum products, coal and fertilisers.
Also, during the period April 1 to June 9, the Railways loaded 12.56 MT of food grains as compared to 6.7 MT in the corresponding period last year.
Besides, March 22 to June 9, a total of 3,861 parcel trains were also operated by the Railways, of which 3,755 were scheduled services. A total of 137,030 tonnes of the consignment was loaded in these parcel trains. Transportation of essential items like medical supplies, medical equipment and food in small parcels was very important during the lockdown in the wake of COVID-19 and after that. To fill in this vital need, the Railways has made railway parcel vans available for quick mass transportation by e-commerce entities and other customers including state governments. The Railways continues to run special parcel trains on select routes to ensure an uninterrupted supply of essential items.
Meanwhile, Zonal Railways are regularly identifying and notifying routes for these special parcel trains. Presently, these trains are being operated on 96 routes. These routes have been identified to include regular connectivity between major cities of the country, connectivity from state-capitals or important cities to all parts of the state, connectivity to the Northeastern part of the country, supply of milk and dairy products from surplus regions to high demand regions and supply of other essential items from producing regions to other parts of the country.
The Indian Railways Staff is working at various good sheds, stations and control offices on a 24x7 basis to ensure that the supply of essential items for the nation does not get affected. An institutional mechanism is put in place to escalate issues faced by the zonal railways in goods train operations to control room set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs on-real time basis through railway officers.