As many as 3,274 Shramik special trains have been run till 25 May carrying 44 lakh passengers to their home states, said Indian Railways today. On 25 May, 223 Shramik Special trains ferried 2.8 lakh passengers, it informed.
According to a senior official with the Railways, the department will offer concession in railway fares only to patients and the divyang (disabled) in reservations and no other concession will be available for any other citizen. Senior citizens could avail preference in lower berths.
The Indian Railways has made arrangements to ensure people’s safe journey during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. “We are following the instructions received from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Union Health Ministry at the railway stations. Basic things like social distancing, sanitisation, and screening are being ensured by our employees,” RK Rana, Northern Railway PRO said. “If a person is not found to be following the rules of the journey, then the railway cancels the ticket of that passenger,” he added.
Passengers are happy with the services provided by the railways.
Indian Railways started Shramik Special trains on 1 May amid the lockdown to send the migrant labourers back home.
From 12 May, Railways is plying 15 pairs (up and down on the same route) of special trains for general passengers from different cities of the country. Railways plans to run 100 pairs of special trains from 1 June.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had on 26 May once again targeted the Maharashtra government, alleging that they had failed to make arrangements for passengers to travel to railways stations, which had resulted in fewer trains carrying migrants.
“85 trains were supposed to ply out of 145 trains, till 6 PM today, from Maharashtra. However due to the failure of the state government to make arrangements of passengers, only 27 could ply.” He added, “I once again request Maharashtra movement to help us take back the poor laborers back home.”
This was not the first time Goyal took a dig at the Maharashtra government over the issue. Earlier in yesterday, he had urged the Maharashtra government to cooperate with railways for operating the Shramik Special trains.
IRCTC distributed more than 74 lakh free meals and more than 1 crore water bottles to travelling migrants. It may be noted that trains running today are not facing any congestion, the ministry said.
Responding to one such report claiming that a Bihar-bound train from Surat in Gujarat went down south towards Bengaluru after losing track at Bhusaval in Maharashtra, the South Western Railway said the report was baseless.
“Shramik Special trains run in the designated path and reach the exact and specified destination. Some trains may be diverted en route due to congestion of path in unavoidable circumstances. Such diversion will be via shortest alternate path. It is clarified that no Shramik Special train has lost the path and reached Bengaluru as reported in the media,” the railway zone headquartered at Hubballi in Karnataka said.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has extended the nationwide lockdown in the fourth phase up to 31 May.