The ongoing Rail Roko protests by the farmers have cost the Indian Railways losses of at least INR 1,670 crore, which is nearly INR 26 crore per day in Punjab. In addition to that, 3090 freight trains could not be operated for transportation of essential commodities such as food grains, fertiliser, coal and petroleum products.
“There is no assurance on the running of passenger trains. They want that only freight trains operate, but railways can’t let anyone pick and choose. It’s dangerous as well because many maintenance trains are passenger rakes. Threat of uniformed protestors coming in way of those trains can lead to disastrous consequences,” said a railway official.
The protests have led to a direct hit on the movement of essential commodities including fuel to Jammu and Kashmir and of essential supplies to meet the requirement of defence forces. Official data show that because of the protest, the railways could not operate 520 rakes to transport coal and 1,150 rakes for movement of foodgrains.
The deadlock has also started impacting the farmers as nearly 270 rakes could not be operated to transport fertiliser to the state. “There is no clue of whether normalcy will be back soon. There has been no improvement on the ground for more than a week. We could not operate nearly 600 rakes carrying containers. The impact is felt by every section in Punjab. We are ready to run trains provided the state ensures no protestor will be back on the tracks when we run freight and passenger trains,” said a railway official.
1,565 passenger trains have either been completely or partially cancelled,as per data from Northern Railway. Additionally, another 105 trains have been diverted since September 22. “Many trains had to be terminated at Ambala, which is known as short termination. Everyday trains were planned expecting the return of normalcy. But there has been no end to the crisis,” said an official.