Indian Railways continues to deliver essential goods through its cargo services throughout the nation amid lockdown, thus supporting the government in managing the challenges posed by COVID-19 crisis in the country.
Since March 23, Indian Railways has delivered nearly 6.75 lakh wagons of commodities including around 4.50 lakh wagons of essentials such as food grains, salt, sugar, edible oil, coal, and petroleum products. In the second week of the countrywide lockdown, the Railways transported as many as 2,58,503 wagons of commodities out of which 1,55,512 carriages contained essential items. This includes 21,247 carts of foodgrains, 11,336 carts of fertilizer, 12,4759 wagons of coal and 7,665 carts of petroleum products.
Indian Railways has also assisted the Food Corporation of India in transporting over 20 Lakh MT food grains across the country since March 24. FCI is able to meet the growing demand for food grains by gearing up the pace of supply of wheat and rice throughout the country mostly by Rail services.
To facilitate the supply of perishable horticulture produce such as seeds, milk, and dairy products, Railways have introduced 109 time-table parcel trains. These special trains have been identified nearly 58 routes since the beginning of the lockdown. These routes connect all important cities that ensure the delivery of essential and perishable goods at a fast pace.
"Approximately, 58 routes (109 trains) for Parcel Special Trains have been notified since the start of the lock-down. Till April 5, 2020, 27 routes were notified, out of which 17 routes were regular scheduled services, while the remaining were for a single trip only," the railways said.
Subsequently, 40 new routes have been identified and notified (and frequency of some of the previous routes has been increased), it added. These trains will connect vital corridors of the country viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. In addition, proper connectivity has also been ensured to Guwahati, to ensure supplies in the North-eastern region of the country.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has allowed manufacture/production, transport, and other related supply-chain activities related to essential goods like food items, medicines and medical equipment.