The movement of trains in Punjab will take a minimum of 10 days to restore to full normalcy, even though the seven-day farmers protest came to an end on Tuesday.
The week-long ‘Rail Roko’ agitation by the farmers had left the rail services paralysed as they blockaded tracks to press for their demands. The stir which is estimated to have caused a financial loss of about Rs 150 crore to Railways, paralysed rail services in Ferozepur and Ambala divisions with movement of a total of 1,239 trains being affected in during the protest.
“It will take at least 10 days to restore full normalcy in train movement following the lifting of rail blockade by farmers today,” Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur division, Anuj Prakash said on Tuesday.
“A lot of things are involved like availability of rakes, crew, etc in fully restoring the train operations on limited track available,” he said.
The stir which has been described as the “worst ever” in Punjab to have affected rail operations has also hit railways financially. The loss has been incurred due to train cancellation, diversion, refund to passengers, use of extra fuel, overtiming, having an adverse impact on the railways.
“Though we have not assessed exact financial loss, yet it could be significant,” Prakash said.
Displeased over the way the farmers blocked the rail traffic, the Railways has decided to take up the matter with the Punjab government to not allow any farmers’ outfits to disrupt rail services in future.
“Railways at least should be spared from protests. I will have meeting with officials of the Punjab government and ask them not to allow all farmers outfits to stop trains. An agreement should be signed between state government and Kisan unions not to halt trains,” he said.
Notably, Railways had requested the Punjab government to prevent rail blockade by farmers.
As train movement remained paralysed for the whole week, railways have got three cases registered under various sections of Railways Act at Jalandhar Cantt, Ferozepur, and Nakodar.
“71 protesting farmers have been arrested under the Railways Act,” he said.
Meanwhile, out of 1,239 trains, 564 trains were affected in Ferozepur Division while in Ambala Division 675 train services were hit.