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�NF Rly, State govt not taking initiative�

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Nov 29 - The Assam Rail Passengers� Association (ARPA) has accused both the railway authorities and the State government of failure to take any initiative for resumption of local and suburban train services in Assam.

�It is very unfortunate that local and suburban services continue to remain suspended in Assam, even as in other states they have resumed operations. The recovery rate of COVID-19 is over 97 per cent in Assam. Economic activities have resumed in all sectors. Offices are running at full strength. Even public meetings and election rallies, like for the polls to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), are being held with huge crown participation. But local train services continue to remain suspended,� ARPA secretary Dipankar Sharma said.

He alleged that both the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) and the Assam government have adopted a lackadaisical attitude on the matter.

�In West Bengal the Chief Secretary of that State personally intervened and took up the matter regarding resumption of local and suburban services with the Eastern Railways and the South Eastern Railways. Similarly, in Tripura as well the State government was instrumental in contacting the NFR authorities. Similarly, the local railway officials also responded positively to the requests by the state governments of West Bengal and Tripura. However, in Assam neither has the State government contacted the NFR to resume local train services and nor has the NFR shown any initiative,� Sharma said.

He claimed the trains are not only a cheaper mode of transportation but also much safer compared to buses or four-wheelers.

�When you can allow resumption of inter-state and intra-state bus services between different places in Assam and when city buses are also plying in Guwahati, there is no reason to keep local trains cancelled. Thousands of people who commute on a daily basis to Guwahati from nearby places like Barpeta, Rangiya, Bongaigaon, Nagaon, etc., are facing a lot of hardship in the absence of local train services. Many such commuters are junior employees of various offices or small traders. That is the segment which has suffered the most income loss due to the pandemic and the lockdown. Now they are forced to pay much higher ticket fares in buses as journey by road is much more expensive than train rides,� Sharma said.

He added that ARPA has repeatedly approached the NFR and the State government seeking steps for gradual resumption of local train services in Assam.

�Adequate health protocols could be followed to ensure safety of commuters while allowing the local trains to operate. Similar measures have been taken across many states,� Sharma said.

It is noteworthy that local and suburban train services in Assam have remained suspended since imposition of the first nation-wide lockdown in late March.

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