GUWAHATI, March 24 - Even as passenger train services across the country have been suspended in view of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, freight trains are being operated as per schedule and as many as 144 goods trains are currently running within the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone carrying essential commodities and other items.
�Indian Railway had suspended all passenger carrying train services from 4 am on March 22 to achieve the objective of social distancing in our fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. The Union and various state governments have also announced lockdown and all railway employees, barring the essential staff, are advised to work from home. However, during this difficult time, our essential staff are toiling day and night as Indian Railways is working 24x7 to run freight services throughout the country ferrying essential commodities like salt, sugar and foodgrains for public distribution system and also petroleum products.
�Moreover, we are also carrying other items like potatoes, milk, vegetables, fertilizers and foodgrains transported by private businesses so that there is no shortage of these commodities among the general populace of the country,� said Subhanan Chanda, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NFR.
He added, �Sixty-six more goods trains will enter our system within the next two to three days.�
Chanda said that a number of our maintenance staff, station staff, control offices� staff, goods offices� staff, and level-crossing gate staff are working to ensure that these trains carrying goods reach their destinations safely and the supply of essential items is not affected.
�Close coordination is being maintained with the state governments so that the rakes of essential commodities are handled smoothly without any delay, amidst various restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19,� said the NFR CPRO.
Last passenger trains: A total of four long-distance passenger trains, which had started from their originating points before 4 am on March 22, arrived in the city today, said NFR Public Relations Officer Nripen Bhattacharya.
Among these two (Awadh Assam Express and Gandhidham-Kamakhya Express) were regular trains and two (Mangalore-Guwahati Special and Pune-Guwahati Special) were special trains. All the passengers who alighted from the trains were screened by medical teams of the State Health department.
Bhattacharya said that these were the last passenger trains to arrive in Guwahati for the time being as all passenger services have been cancelled till March 31.