Amid lockdown due to COVID-19, Indian Railways creates a new record! During the lockdown period from 25 March to 30 April 2020, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone has operated an all-time-record number of 622 freight train services, carrying more than 2 million metric tons of commodities including items such as food grains, sugar, salt, pulses, edible oil, coal for power plants, petroleum products, potatoes, onions, and other food items. While 383 freight train services brought these supplies to Assam alone, a number of 63 freight train services were run to different rail heads connecting other states of the Northeast region. Besides, 176 freight trains were run to different destinations in Bihar and West Bengal during the same period.
According to the Northeast Frontier Railway zone, this achievement was possible because of two reasons. First, due to the cancellation of passenger trains, more freight trains could be planned as per the requirements of private traders and state authorities. Second, for uninterrupted operations to be carried out, the machine and manpower, which were available due to the lockdown could be utilized to repair and maintain the operational infrastructure such as rail tracks and signal gears. While doing so, all lockdown norms including individual safety, social distancing, hygiene as well as the minimal deployment of manpower were ensured, the zonal railways stated.
During this period, 142 freight train services were brought to Assam, 50 train services for other Northeast states, 29 freight trains to Bihar, and 42 freight trains to West Bengal, by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) alone. It has also been reported that the food grains moved by FCI in April is twice the monthly average quantity of food grain moved in normal circumstances. During this period, 22 freight trains loaded with sugar, 15 trains loaded with potatoes, 11 trains loaded with edible oil, 14 trains loaded with fertilizers, 13 trains loaded with salt and 55 trains loaded with power plant coal, have been moved by the Northeast Frontier Railways into Northeastern states.