NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is expected to resume normal train services in Punjab beginning today after it got an assurance from Punjab government that the rail blockade will be removed in the state by Friday morning.
Following the assurance from the Punjab government, the national transporter said that it is fully prepared to resume the train services.
Addressing a virtual press conference here, Railway Board Chairman and CEO V K Yadav said, “We have got assurance from the Punjab Chief Secretary that the rail blockade will be removed by Friday morning. And Indian Railways is fully ready to start the passenger and goods trains.”
Yadav said that earlier in the day, the blockade at over 15 places have been removed.
He said that RPF Director General Arun Kumar is in touch with the Punjab DGP and is monitoring the situation very closely to ensure safety of the people and railway employees.
Asked if a condition was laid down by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal linking the Central farm laws to the resumption of trains during a meeting with Congress leaders, Yadav, who was present in the meeting, denied the same.
“The minister was very clear in his stand. He said train services could resume only under one condition that all blockades are removed and we get the state government’s assurance of safety and security of the trains. He did not link the resumption of services to the farm bills in anyway,” the railway board chairman said.
The farmers in Punjab have blocked the train movement at over 32 places in several parts of Punjab, Haryana over the passage of three controversial Agriculture Bills.
The farmers have been agitating against the Centre since September 26.
The loss suffered by the national transporter due to the agitation in Punjab over the Central farm reform laws has already crossed an estimated Rs 1,200 crore as protests on train tracks continued.
According to data from the Railways over 2,225 freight rakes carrying vital commodities could not be operated till date due to the blockades caused by the protestors.
Around 1,350 trains have been forced to be cancelled or diverted, it said.
Train services in Punjab have been suspended since September 24 due farmers’ protests over the three farm bills passed in Parliament. While it had resumed for a few days in October, it was suspended again due to concerns over safety and security of train crew members.