As India enters the fourth phase of the post-pandemic ‘unlock’ process, the Indian Railways plans to start more special passenger trains in high-demand sectors, for which it is in discussions with various State governments.
These trains will be run in addition to the 230 special trains that are currently operational.
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While the Railways did not share more details, an official spokesperson said, “More special trains are being planned. State Governments are being consulted.”
While the Railways had also announced in June that more trains were likely to be introduced soon, the plan was shelved as various State governments, including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand, requested the cancellation of existing trains or for a reduction in their frequency due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
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Following the national lockdown, the Railways had suspended all passenger services March 22 onwards. It later started running 230 special passenger trains along with Shramik Special trains for migrant labourers returning home. On an average about 80 of these trains are running at more than 100% occupancy, meaning that there is a waiting list for these trains.
Freight demand grows
In a separate statement, the Ministry said its freight loading for the month of August 2020 at 94.33 million tonnes, surpassed the loading for the same month (91.02 million tonnes) last year.
The total loading included 40.49 million tonnes of coal, 12.46 million tonnes of iron ore, 6.24 million tonnes of foodgrains, 5.32 million tonnes of fertilizers, 4.63 million tonnes of cement (excluding clinker), and 3.2 million tonnes of mineral oil.
“COVID-19 has been used by Railways an opportunity to improve all round efficiencies and performances. It may be noted that improvements in freight movements will be institutionalised and incorporated in the upcoming zero based time table...a number of concessions/ discounts are also being given in Indian Railways to make Railways Freight movement very attractive,” it said.