The railways has operated 542 “Shramik Special” trains since May 1 and ferried home 6.48 lakh migrants stranded in various parts of the country amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, officials said on Tuesday.
On Monday, a statement issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the railways will now run 100 “Shramik Special” trains on a daily basis to facilitate a faster movement of workers.
Of the 542 trains run so far, 448 have reached their destinations and 94 are in transit.
The 448 trains were terminated in various states, including Uttar Pradesh (221), Bihar (117), Madhya Pradesh (38), Odisha (29), Jharkhand (27), Rajasthan (four), Maharashtra (three), Telangana and West Bengal (two each), and Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (one each).
The trains have ferried migrants to cities such as Tiruchirappalli, Titlagarh, Barauni, Khandwa, Jagannathpur, Khurda Road, Prayagraj, Chhapra, Balia, Gaya, Purnia, Varanasi, Darbhanga, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Jaunpur, Hatia, Basti, Katihar, Danapur, Muzzaffarpur, Saharsa etc.
A proper screening of the passengers is carried out before they board the trains. During the journey, the passengers are given free meals and water.
From Monday, these “Shramik Special” trains started carrying around 1,700 passengers each, instead of the earlier 1,200, to ferry as many workers home as possible.
While initially these trains had no stoppages, the railways announced on Monday that up to three stoppages in the destination states will be allowed. The decision was taken after several state governments made a request in this regard, officials said.
While the railways is yet to announce the cost incurred on these special services, officials indicated that the national transporter is spending around Rs 80 lakh per service.
The Centre had earlier stated that the cost of the services was shared on a 85:15 ratio with the states.
Since the “Shramik Special” train service started, Gujarat has remained the top originating state, followed by Kerala. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh top the list of receiving states.
Earlier, the railways drew flak from opposition parties for charging for these services. In its guidelines, the national transporter has said the trains will ply only if they have a 90-per cent occupancy and the “states should collect the ticket fare”.