Passenger and freight train services have resumed on the Punjab route from Tuesday.
The route was blocked by farmers who are protesting against the Centre's farm laws.
Speaking to ANI, Satwinder Singh, a passenger said, "I have come from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. The government has taken the correct decision to resume train services."
"I have come from Banaras. We were stranded there for more than one month. We would like to thank the government to take this decision and resume services," said another passenger.
The Indian Railways on Sunday decided to restore train services in Punjab, starting with the trial run of freight trains on Monday to observe safety and security on the tracks. It will resume passenger train services from November 25 after observing the safety and security of trains and tracks.
On Monday, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had tweeted, "After the postponement of the farmer movement on railway tracks and stations in Punjab from November 23, Indian Railways is going to start rail services from and through Punjab."
"Passengers, farmers, and industries will be benefited by the removal of the impasse in train operations," he added.
Train services to and from Punjab have been disrupted for months due to farmers' protests on railway tracks against the new farm laws.
The railway authorities on Monday afternoon resumed the operation of two goods trains under the Ferozepur division, nearly two months after as many as 31 farmers unions in Punjab began a rail blockade in protest against Centre’s new farm laws.
Confirming the resumption of services, Ferozepur divisional railway manager Rajesh Agarwal said, “An empty freight train that was stuck in Jalandhar due to blockade by farmer unions started for Delhi. A freight train carrying gypsum from Jammu via Kathua to Lucknow was operated today. More trains will be back on tracks in the coming days.”
The Ferozepur division manages railway traffic in major part of Punjab, a part of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir region.
Services of 31 passenger trains, including Golden Temple mail, Amritsar-Hardwar, Jan Shatabdi, and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Express Special, will be resumed in the next one week, the official said.
The trains were run after the inspection of all tracks falling under the Ferozepur division, officials said.
Joint teams of the Government Railway Police and Railway Protection Force did a comprehensive safety audit of entire track network in the entire the Ferozepur division before the trains were resumed. “The inspection work completed on Monday noon after the train services were resumed,” Agarwal said.
Ambala DRM GM Singh said one rake of coal was supplied to Nabha power plant whereas coal consignment to the state-run power utility at Lehra Mohabbat in Bathinda is awaited.
“Passenger and goods train service in the division restarted. Due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in New Delhi, occupancy in passenger trains is very low and several trains on Delhi-Ambala section and onwards are being cancelled. Otherwise, railways need 72-hours to bring passenger railway traffic back to a normal rate,” he said.
Later in the day, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh hit out at the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee after the outfit refused to lift the blockade. He said the blockade will put people to major inconvenience and may have grave consequences for the state.
“When the state government and every person in Punjab have been extending their full support to the farmers, why is this union taking a stance against their own state,” he asked.
The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee has refused to budge from its stand on clearing rail tracks for passenger trains till the farm laws issue is resolved.
This would alienate the committee from people, he said cautioning it against taking such a harsh stand, which could lead them losing the support of the masses.
The message that is emanating from the “adamant” stand of the committee is that the union is not really interested in breaking the stalemate on the farm laws issue, Amarinder Singh said.
In any case, said the CM, blocking a one-odd track will serve no purpose even for the committee, which incidentally has chosen to stay away from the meeting convened by him on Saturday to urge the farm unions to lift their blockade.
Meanwhile, farmers and industrialists in the state welcomed the resumption of train services.
Gurcharan Mann, a farmer from Tungwali in Bathinda, said the absence of train services was proving costly to the farming community as the availability of fertilisers was severely hit by the prolonged agitation. “I had to spend Rs 3,000 travelling to Kota in Rajasthan by road for my beekeeping venture whereas train journey costs about Rs 250,” he said.
An entrepreneur, Kapil Goyal, said the resumption of train services has brought a sigh of relief to the entire industrial sector of Punjab. “Supply chain was completely disrupted as there was no raw material and finished products could not be delivered to the market. The threat of power cuts, that could have further jolted the manufacturing plants who have yet to get out of the major drop in the demand during the pandemic outbreak,” he said.