The Indian Railways has begun running special “shramik” trains to ferry stranded migrant workers and others to their respective home states.
The first such train with 1,200 passengers from Hyderabad to Jharkhand at took off at 4:50 am on Friday moring.
The other five “Shramik Special” trains are — Nasik to Lucknow (9:30 pm), Aluva to Bhubaneswar (6 pm), Nasik to Bhopal (8 pm), Jaipur to Patna (10 pm) and Kota to Hatia (9 pm).
“As per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, it has been decided to run ‘Shramik Special’ trains from ‘Labour Day’ today to move migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places due to the lockdown.
“These special trains will be run from point to point on the request of both the state governments concerned as per the standard protocols for sending and receiving such stranded persons. The railways and state governments shall appoint senior officials as nodal officers for coordination and a smooth operation of these ‘Shramik Specials’,” the national transporter said.
While the railways will issue separate guidelines for tickets, officials in Rajasthan’s Kota have issued instruction, saying students need to carry identity cards, seats will be allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis and a message from the district magistrate allowing travel will be considered as a valid ticket.
Each train is likely to carry around 1,000-1,200 passengers, keeping in mind the social-distancing protocol.
Students from all 24 districts of Jharkhand, who were stranded in Rajasthan, will be accommodated in two special trains leaving Kota and Jaipur around 9 pm on Friday.
The students were asked to report from 6 pm onwards and a district-wise seating arrangement has been made with adequate social distancing.
According to the guidelines issued by the railways, the passengers of these trains will have to be screened at the boarding points by the states sending them and only those found asymptomatic of COVID-19 will be allowed to travel.
“Sending state governments will have to bring these persons in batches that can be accommodated in the trains to the designated railway stations in sanitised buses, following social-distancing norms and other precautions. It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear a face cover. Meals and drinking water would be provided to the passengers by the sending states at the originating stations.
“Railways will endeavour to ensure social-distancing norms and hygiene with the cooperation of passengers. On longer routes, the railways will provide a meal during the journey,” the national transporter said.
On arrival at the destination, the passengers will be received by the state government, which will make all arrangements for their screening, quarantine, if necessary, and further travel from the railway station, it added.