NEW DELHI: The Railways could not resume train services in Punjab on Friday as 22 of the 31 locations were still blocked by farmers. The Railways, however, said that it was ready to resume train services once the tracks are cleared.
Addressing a virtual press conference here, Railway Board Chairman and CEO V.K. Yadav said, “Railways is trying hard to restore train services in Punjab. And as per the latest information, blockade at 22 locations is still continuing while farmers have cleared nine locations.”
Yadav said that he was in constant touch with the Punjab Chief Secretary and has requested him to remove the blockades.
The CEO said, “We will soon start all the train services once the blockade is removed and once we get the security clearance from the state government.”
Yadav also emphasised that the mail or express trains announced earlier already have bookings and the passengers were being refunded the ticket charge due to cancellation of trains.
Yadav said that the Railways is planning to operate passenger as well as goods trains once the blockades are cleared.
“Since September 24 we had to stop the train services. Goods train services were stopped from September 29 as blockade at several places was there,” he said, adding that a few goods train services were started on October 22 after an indication from the state government.
“However, we had to stop the goods train services as the farmers once again assembled near the tracks and it was not possible to operate, thereby putting the lives of people and railway officials at risk,” he said.
Yadav stressed that the national transporter wants to operate train services ensuring the safety and security of the passengers.
Farmers have been agitating in Punjab over the three controversial agriculture laws passed by the Centre in September. They have been demanding revocation of the laws.
Railway Protection Force (RPF) Director General Arun Kumar said, “Our officers visited the DGP Punjab office to remove the blockade from rail tracks in Punjab.”
“We are requesting the Punjab government to clear the blockade and ensure security and safety,” Kumar said.
To a question whether train services were also stopped in other states earlier, the RPF Director General said that earlier train services were completely stopped in Rajasthan during the Gujjar agitation.
Commenting on the current situation in the wake of the Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan and farmers’ indefinite protest in Punjab, Kumar said: “In Rajasthan there is a blockade at one place while in Punjab the blockade is at several locations. Blockade at several strategic locations has made it impossible for the railways to resume operations.”