Railway Minister Piyush Goyal Seeks Safety Of Staff If Services Are To Resume In Punjab; Ball Now In Amarinder Singh's Court

by Arun Kumar Das - Oct 27, 2020 05:20 AM
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal Seeks Safety Of Staff If Services Are To Resume In Punjab; Ball Now In Amarinder Singh's Court 
Protesters against farm reforms block train movement in Punjab.
Snapshot
  • As of date, around 200 freight rakes are stranded in the railway system and are waiting to be moved to or through Punjab.

Concerned over the ongoing agitation by farmers, Railways has sought assurances from the Punjab government about the safety and security of trains, drivers and guards in order that train operations may resume in the state.

Farmers in Punjab are agitating against the recently enacted farm laws and blocking rail tracks in the state in protest, resulting in disruption of essential supplies in the state.

Drawing the attention of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to the prevailing situation, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has written to Singh requesting him to "ensure full security, and clear tracks of agitators for complete resumptions of railway services in Punjab and guarantee a free run of all trains including freight and passenger trains to and through Punjab."

Singh had earlier written to Goyal regarding the rail roko agitation and the disruption of essential supplies to the state.

Following the partial withdrawal of the agitation, Railways had commenced freight operations on 23 October. However, this had to be stopped as sporadic blockades of tracks continued at various places and several conditions were being imposed by the agitators to allow movement of certain commodities for certain destinations only.

Highlighting the present situation, Goyal maintained, "Agitators are still agitating outside Powerhouse and disrupting smooth movement of coal. Railways has not been able to draw out the 20 empty rakes which are stuck inside. There have been agitations outside Amritsar railway station since 24 October. Movement of containers, petroleum rakes and rakes for movement from the FCI silo at Moga have also been obstructed."

Seeking early action on the part of the state government in this regard, Goyal pointed out that the state administration has not been able to ensure smooth movement of railway services in Punjab.

As of date, around 200 freight rakes are stranded in the railway system and are waiting to be moved to or through Punjab.

Railway staff are apprehensive of the fact that there may be some incidents of people obstructing the trains being run over.

"Without total withdrawal of the blockade, our staff, particularly loco pilots and guards, are not confident of running trains. They fear for their security and also for the possibility of inadvertent run over on tracks," the Railway Minister said in his letter to the CM.

Goyal further said, "It is also not possible for the Railways to discriminate between customers and selectively run certain kinds of freight trains. The restrictions on the types of trains, routes, destinations and cargo etc., are impossible to adhere to and creates huge uncertainty and risk to the life and safety of our railway personnel and property."

The state-run transporter maintains that it is ready to resume train operations — both passenger and freight — immediately after a clear-cut assurance from the Punjab government is received on safety and security of its rakes and staff.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at akdas2005@gmail.com.


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