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You can’t set terms, says Rail Board refusing to run only freight trains | India News

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NEW DELHI: The railways on Saturday said it can’t resume only goods train services in Punjab, a day after the state government claimed protesters are no more on tracks and freight movement will be possible. Terming the state government’s claim as “misguiding”, Railway Board CEO and Chairman V K Yadav said the railways can’t run trains in any state with conditions that only certain services carrying some commodities and on certain corridors be allowed.
“The statement that came from the state government was similar to what the protesters had been conveying to our station masters – the tracks are clear for freight trains only. We cannot operate trains in that manner. If tracks are clear, they are clear for both freight and passenger trains. We request that the running of trains be left to the railways…there is no meaning of tracks cleared only for freight trains,” Yadav told reporters.
The blockage of rail services by anti-farm law protestors, backed by Congress and other parties in the state, has created a shortage of urea for farm use. This led to several farm organisations saying that they will withdraw the stir. Since then Punjab Congress leaders have met the railway minister but without a breakthrough as the Centre has pointed out that a “conditional” restoration of services is not possible, with the issue getting a political colour.
The Railway Board chief said it was correct that the protesters are no more on tracks. But they were at one railway station and had assembled just outside station premises in 22 other places. “They have been sending messages to the station masters that they will return to tracks, if we operate any passenger train,” he said.
Train operations were stopped completely from September 30. Though the railways had resumed running freight trains on some sections on October 22, this had to be stopped as well after incidents of protesters blocking trains.
Yadav said the drivers, guards and other staff are not confident and are worried to run trains because of the risk of protesters returning to the tracks. A source said railways was aware that a single accident on track will have serious ramification and railways may be blamed in such a situation.
Responding to why railways was not considering at least running freight trains to break the deadlock in such an extraordinary situation, Yadav said they had tried this last month when they resumed freight train operation for two days after getting feelers from the Punjab government that tracks would be cleared in days.
“Trains were stopped to check whether they were goods or passenger services. We cannot stop trains for protesters to give us certificates to run trains…. There were times when possible accidents were averted. If people come in front of trains and try to stop trains, it is damaging for both railways and the persons involved,” he said.
Yadav said protesters may even stop the trains run for maintenance purpose which has coaches for staff. “This is not possible operationally in any part of the country. We have conveyed this to the Punjab government again and again. If this is done, the entire railway system won’t be able to work and people will start making similar demands of which trains to run, from every corner of the country. We run trains depending on technical feasibility of tracks only and safety and security are our priority,” he said.

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