New Delhi: Following the suspension of passenger, mail and express train services amid the nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Indian Railways has utilised the time for long pending maintenance work and yard remodelling that earlier acted as bottlenecks.
Railway ministry officials said that during the last 41 days of the nationwide lockdown the national transporter has taken up the maintenance of bridges, remodelling of yards, renewal of scissors crossover, which have been pending for several years.
"These works were pending for several years and were confronting railways with severe bottlenecks. Railways planned these works during lockdown period considering it once in a lifetime opportunity to wipe out these maintenance arrears and take up the execution of work without affecting the train services," he said.
The official said that during the lockdown the railways deployed over 500 modern heavy duty track maintenance machines, signal and overhead equipment (OHE) maintainers have worked regularly for 10,749 machine days to complete overdue track maintenance of 12,270 km plain track and 5263 number of turn outs.
The official said that during the lockdown the health of the tracks has been monitored through periodic runs of Oscillation Monitoring System (OMS). Besides the OMS technique, the railways also used the Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) technique on 30,182 km of track and 1.34 lakh rail welds have been carried out with USFD machines.
"Critical summer precaution activities like de-stressing of long welded rail (LWR) which involved huge manpower has been taken up with a new procedure for carrying out the work while ensuring social distancing norms. 2,246 km of de-stressing of LWR has been done," the official said.
The official added that a major block of 72 hours was taken in Kazipet yard for pending yard remodelling to replace old wooden scissors crossover laid in 1970 with standard concrete layout to improve the safety and speed of train movement through the yard.
The government on Friday announced to extend the lockdown by two more weeks till May 17. The railways has also suspended passenger, mail and express train services till May 17 and only Shramik Special trains will run on the request of the state governments to transport migrant labourers, students, pilgrims and tourists stranded in several parts of the country.
The railways is only running the freight and special parcel trains to ensure the supply of essential items across the country.