Amritsar, January 3
Though the restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid-19 have been eased long back, train traffic at the Amritsar railway station has not returned to its previous level. The number of trains which used to arrive at the city railway stations remain less than what it used to be before the onset of the pandemic. So in the absence of heavy train traffic, there is no plan as of now to decongest the main railway station by consolidating the infrastructure at satellite railway stations.
Though the refurbished Chheharta railway station was opened, regular rail traffic is yet to resume. Yet it was hailed as a good step to decongest the main railway station by consolidating the infrastructure at satellite railway stations, also called minor railway stations.
The movement of people and transport restricted to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in March 2020 will complete three years in March 2023 but even after such a long period, movement of trains continues to remain less frequent.
Around 130 trains used to ply daily at the Amritsar railway station before March 2019. Now, their daily count has come down to a little over 40. Nearly 10 out of these are held up due to the thick cover of fog in the northern region.
Covid restrictions were lifted long back, but resumption of all those trains is taking place at a snail’s pace. Similarly, the daily footfall at the station has not returned to its full potential which has also affected the vendors.
The Amritsar railway station was classified under Category A railway station as it used to witness a footfall of around 50,000 people, including 20,000 passengers every day before Covid-19. Railway stations are divided in A, B, C, D, E and F categories after evaluating various parameters.
After investing nearly Rs 60 crore to boost the infrastructure at Chheharta railway station, Northern Railway temporarily extended the run of the Ludhiana-Amritsar passenger train to the Chheharta railway station in September on trial basis.
It was in March 2015 that the Railways decided to upgrade minor railway stations like Chheharta and Bhagtanwala situated around the holy city to decongest the main railway station.
The ambitious approach was aimed to meet the rising railway traffic and increasing footfall of passengers. Over the years, it had become a common grievance of the passengers that trains were unnecessarily halted at unscheduled stops on city outskirts.
Now, it remains to be seen if the local railway stations regain its eminence in terms of train connectivity and footfall in the new year.