Train services resume: Coolies, vendors struggle to make ends meet in Ludhiana
With limited trains plying on the tracks of the Ludhiana railway station, coolies and vendors are struggling to make ends meet. On Wednesday, the food stalls at the station were also found closed as vendors opted to keep their establishments closed due to low footfall.
Income of coolies has also been affected adversely due to limited passengers visiting the station and majority of them opting to carry their own luggage to avoid getting infected.
As per schedule released by the railways, 15 trains were expected to halt at the Ludhiana Railway Station on Wednesday.
Of these, Paschim Express from Bandra to Amritsar, which was scheduled to reach Ludhiana at 8am, arrived four hours late. Passengers finally boarded the train at 1.10pm.
A passenger, Gopal Krishan, said: “I reached the station at 8am with my family to board the train to Amritsar. But, we had to wait for four hours. Due to surging Covid cases, there was low footfall at the station. Officials of the government railway police were asking all passengers to maintain social distancing and most people were wearing masks and abiding by safety protocols.”
The Sachkhand express from Nanded to Amritsar, which was scheduled to reach Ludhiana at 5.35am, was cancelled.
A coolie, Radhe Shyam, who has been working at the Ludhiana Railway Station for the last 12 years, said: “I reached the station early in the morning as two trains were expected to arrive between 5am and 8 am. But, one of them was cancelled and another was running late. I rested at the platform and the first train arrived at 1.10 pm. I managed to earn only Rs 100 till afternoon. Due to few trains halting at the station, and passengers preferring to carry their own luggage, coolies are struggling to make ends meet.”
All food stalls and trolleys from platform numbers one to seven have been non-operational since March, when trains services were suspended amid the Covid outbreak.
Even when the train services have partially resumed now, vendors have decided not to reopen as most passengers are carrying eatables on their own.
Earlier, around 150 to 200 trains used to traverse from Ludhiana, and the station witnessed a footfall of around 80,000 passengers everyday.
Som Nath, President of the Vendors’ Cooperative Society, said, “After the railways suspended train services in March, all vendors lost their source of income and have been without work since then. We are ready to open the stalls at the station as our income has been affected for many months. Majority of the vendors at stalls and moving trolleys sell food items such as ‘chhole kulche’, chips, cold drinks, biscuits, water bottles, etc. But, due to limited passengers visiting the station, it is not feasible for them to reopen.”
Ludhiana railway superintendent Ashok Salaria, said: “Out of the 15 trains expected to arrive at the station on Wednesday, one of them was cancelled and few were running late.”