TWO GOODS trains were joined together to form an 84-wagon train that transported 5,200 tonnes of rice and wheat from Ludhiana to Assam on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday. This was the first time that one of the 84-wagon train’s two engines was operated remotely.
This was the 107th Annapurna train operated by the Northern Railways since the lockdown began (between March 24 and April 27). All of them were of 84 wagons, while a few had 116 wagons as well, said Sudhir Kumar Singh. From Ferozepur division, nearly 450 goods trains went in total.
“84-wagon goods trains have been sent by Northern Railways earlier as well amid the outbreak. However, the train that went from Ludhiana to Assam driven by a loco pilot and co-pilot sitting in the front engine, while the second engine in the middle was managed by staff sitting in the first engine, using radio frequency. Hence, the second engine was remotely managed by the pilot of the first engine. This has been done for the first time for an 84-wagon train by Northern Railways,” Sudhir Kumar Singh, senior divisional operations manager, told The Indian Express.
Northern Railways has Ferozepur, Ambala, Delhi, Moradabad and Lucknow divisions under it, of which food grain supplies are in majority done by Ferozepur, Ambala and Delhi divisions only. Hence this particular single pilot operated the double goods train operated for the first time by the Ferozepur division, said Sudhir Kumar Singh.
A 42-wagon was to go from Ajitwal (Moga) to Haibergaanv, Assam, while another was to go from Phillaur, Jalandhar, to Bindupuri, Assam. Hence both were loaded and brought to Ludhiana railway station, where they were joined and sent to Assam, said Manish Narwal, senior divisional electric engineer of Ferozepur railways division.
The maximum distance covered by any Annapurna train was 1,671 km, carrying enough food grain to feed 80 crore public distribution beneficiaries. These trains carried food grains from Punjab and Haryana.
Punjab’s record dispatch
Anandita Mitra, director, Food and Civil Supplies, Punjab told The Indian Express, “From March 24-26 we have done a record dispatch of 22,22,500 MT from Punjab via freight trains. Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu had even thanked CMD, FCI, D V Prasad for giving special trains to Punjab.”
He further said, “This will not only give food security to the needy but also solve the problem of rice storage in the state. ”
Punjab has meanwhile sent over 760 special trains from Ferozepur and Ambala divisions loaded with wheat and rice.