The Indian Railways has operated 428 "Shramik Special" trains since May 1 and ferried home more than 4.5 lakh migrants stranded in various parts of the country amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, officials said. While 80 such services were run on Saturday, so far on Sunday, 64 trains had been operated.
Till May 9, out of the 287 trains which had terminated, 127 terminated in Uttar Pradesh, 87 in Bihar, 24 in Madhya Pradesh, 20 in Odisha, 16 in Jharkhand, four in Rajasthan, three in Maharashtra, two each in Telangana and West Bengal, and one each in Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, the officials said. These trains have ferried migrants to cities such as Tiruchchirappalli, Titlagarh, Barauni, Khandwa, Jagannathpur, Khurda Road, Chhapra, Balia, Gaya, Purnia, Varanasi.
Every Shramik Special train has 24 coaches, each with a capacity of 72 seats. However, only 54 people are allowed in a coach and the middle berth is not allotted to any passenger to maintain social distancing norms. While the railways has not yet announced the cost incurred on the special services, the officials indicate that the national transporter has spent around Rs 80 lakh per service.
The government had earlier stated that the cost of the services has been shared on a 85:15 ratio with states. Since the Shramik Special train service started, Gujarat has remained one of the top originating stations 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 railways has said the trains will ply only if they have 90 per cent occupancy and the "states should collect the ticket fare".