GUWAHATI, Aug 28 - The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted revenue generation of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) due to the suspension of regular passenger trains since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown from end of March.
NFR has, meanwhile, initiated a slew of measures to increase ease-of-doing-business with Railways and as part of Indian Railway�s policy to provide more thrust on freight movement, the NFR has taken steps to attract new customers and to make transportation through rail easier.
Revealing this at an online press conference today, Sanjive Roy, General Manager, NFR, said the overall earning of the NFR had come down due to the suspension of regular passenger train services even as freight movement had increased during the period compared to previous years.
�The increase in freight handling cannot compensate for the loss in the passenger segment,� he said adding that the figures of the loss were yet to be assessed.
Roy said that 8-9 special trains were being run daily by NFR currently, and though the occupancy was less in the initial days, it has increased to 90-100 per cent now.
Stating that the Railways were prepared to run more passenger trains, Roy said that for passenger trains, the State governments had to take a decision on the matter as the �Railways are ready�.
He said that 724 Shramik Special Trains were run by the NFR, transporting seven lakh passengers, while �road bridging� of 4,800 passengers from Guwahati to Jiribam (Manipur) and Agartala (Tripura) was also done due to suspension of train movement at Guwahati.
Elaborating on the increase in freight services during the lockdown period, Roy said that there is an increase of 16.90 per cent in the number of freight trains run in August this year compared to the same month last year.
Moreover, sectional speed has been raised, loop lines have been raised, and the average speed of goods trains has also gone up during the lockdown and the subsequent unlocking periods, he added.
With a focus on the policy for increasing freight trains, concessions and discounts are being granted, ease-of-doing business initiatives are being undertaken, terminals are being decongested, and steps are being taken to attract smaller than train-load traffic, among other measures, Roy said. �We have also taken initiatives for marketing, like forming business development units and attracting more non-traditional cargo,� he added.
The NFR is also supplementing the State government�s efforts in combating Covid-19 and the healthcare infrastructure of the Railways is being provided for Covid-care facilities.
Covid-care facilities have already been made functional in four NFR hospitals, from where 750 patients have already been cured and discharged, while 215 are still undergoing treatment.
Altogether 8,718 PPE kits, 2,400 litres of hand sanitizers and one lakh reusable face covers or masks have also been manufactured in-house since the beginning of the lockdown, the General Manage added.