Railway passengers and vendors bear the brunt of farmers’ blockade

Tribune News Service

Neeraj Bagga

Amritsar, May 17th

Passengers and hawkers at Amritsar railway station are angry that many trains are not running due to a blockade of the main railway line by farmers from Shambhu, near Ambala.

Railway officials say local train stations are short on passenger numbers by about 30%. This is causing economic damage not only to station kiosks, but also to car and taxi drivers.

Most of the trains operating from Amritsar railway station take a detour from Ludhiana and Thanewal near Chandigarh to reach Ambala cantonment. Earlier, trains originating from Amritsar station used to pass through Rajpura station to reach Ambala Cantonment station, which is much shorter and takes less time. Passenger travel times have now increased over the past month.

Seven routes will be suspended, and 23 routes will be diverted to other routes.

Traveling by train has become a challenge for passengers as farmers have been sitting on the railway tracks for nearly a month now. Train cancellations and rescheduling have caused countless miseries to commuters and merchants and traders who have lost business.

Davinder Singh, a trader who commutes to Delhi once a week, said his travel time has increased by many hours. He said passengers were forced to transfer to buses because of the train diversion. Frequent cancellations have made rail travel uncertain. Therefore, people avoid booking train tickets.

Vendors who make a living selling food at railway stations are angry at repeated blockades of tracks. There was a similar lockdown in February, causing huge economic losses. Now they are suffering losses again. They said each vendor pays monthly rent to the railways of Rs 15,000 to he Rs 27,000, plus his GST of 18 per cent.

In addition, other expenditures include commercial electricity rates, employee salaries, maintenance charges and other charges of approximately Rs 11.79 per unit. Repeated lockdowns have caused losses and made it difficult to make a living. They demanded compensation from the railroad to cover their costs.

Paramdeep Singh Saini, senior divisional commercial manager, said the railways had no mechanism to assess and compensate traders for their losses. Additionally, some train delays could have created more revenue opportunities for vendors.

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