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COVID 19 & Railways

Indian Railways, world’s fourth-largest rail operator, suspended services following the imposition of country-wide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the impact on the Indian Railways?

1. In the 157-year-old history of Indian railways, the last such suspension was in 1974 when the railways were on strike for 20 days.

2. Indian Railways is coming up with a lot of innovation model to overcome this crisis.

3. While goods trains remain operational, they run at only 60% capacity due to demand slackness from the closure of industries/factories.

Why were Parcel Cargo Express Trains reintroduced?

1. Indian Railways had notified 62 parcel cargo routes with 167 such express trains already being operational.

2. A parcel cargo express carries small quantities of parcels that are usually moved via the highways.

3. Parcel trains were needed as all the passenger trains are suspended and the demand for regular freight trains carrying bulk goods, like steel, cement and coal has been slowing down due to closure of factories.

4. The parcel trains have emerged as a viable alternative as truck services faced hurdles as state borders were shut.

How have these trains helped the economy?

1. It has been helpful in delivering essential food items in the time of crisis.

2. Amazon India has strengthened its partnership with the Indian Railways to transport consignments via rail across the country.

3. It has been helpful for the company also to increase its operations during the lockdown period.

Which other innovative steps have been taken?

1. Railway PSUs are converting coaches as isolation wards which are likely to be sent in rural areas without hospitals.

2. It has also been producing essential medical goods like masks, sanitizers, PPEs.

3. It has increased it freight services.

4. The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is supplying free lunch meals at railway stations.

5. 13 of IRCTC’s base kitchens, spread across the country, have become the nodal points for such distribution.