Railways receive more than 1,000 approvals to operate Shramik special trains

NEW DELHI: It has received more than 1,000 approvals from states in the past 15 days to transport home, and most of the workers were received by Uttar Pradesh followed by Bihar, according to official data.

Among the migrants' home states, West Bengal has approved eight trains, Rajasthan 23, Jharkhand 50 and Odisha 52, the data shows.

Since May 1, the railways have traveled 932, transporting more than 12,000 migrant workers who were stranded in various parts of the country due to the closure caused by the coronavirus, officials said Friday.

The operationalization of these trains has also led to political problems with the opposition accusing the Center of charging the fare to migrants.

However, the Center has clarified that the rate is being shared at a ratio of 85-15 by the railways and state governments.

On Thursday, the railway minister had beaten West Bengal's chief minister Mamata Banerjee for not allowing migrants to return, and called on all states to grant railways approval to operate more trains.

Railways have said it has the capacity to run 300 of these trains per day.

Under Prime Minister @NarendraModi's leadership, the total number of Shramik special trains approved to date is up to 1,000. Yesterday, Indian Railways ran 145 special Shramik trains to help stranded workers get to their hometown. Goyal said.

He then added that of the total of Shramik special trains running on Indian railways, almost 75 percent had their destination points in UP or Bihar.

Of the 974 trains that have been operated so far, 169 are in transit, while 805 have ended at various stations. Ninety more are in the works, an official said.

These 974 trains ended in various states such as Andhra Pradesh (3), Bihar (201), Chhattisgarh (7), Himachal Pradesh (4), Jammu and Kashmir (5), Jharkhand (41), Karnataka (2), Madhya Pradesh ( 70), Maharashtra (5), Manipur (1), Odisha (45), Rajasthan (18), Tamil Nadu (1), Telangana (2), Tripura (1), Uttar Pradesh (387), Uttarakhand (4) and West Bengal (7).

The railways said Friday that it has so far received 1,064 approvals from states to operate migrant trains. Uttar Pradesh has approved 526 trains, followed by Bihar, which has approved 269 and Madhya Pradesh 81 trains.

The number is 50 for Jharkhand, 23 for Rajasthan and nine for West Bengal.

The Railways are ready to bring workers home by running 300 special worker trains daily, but it saddens me that the governments of some states like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand do not allow these trains, so the Workers have to suffer outside the home, Goyal said in a tweet on Friday.

A special Shramik train carries around 1,700 passengers, instead of the previous 1,200, to transport as many workers home as possible.

While these trains initially had no stops, railways now allow up to three stops in destination states.

While the railways have yet to announce the cost incurred for these special services, officials indicated that the national carrier is spending around Rs 80 lakh per service.

Since Shramik's special train service began, Gujarat has remained the main home state, followed by Kerala.

Previously, the railways were criticized by the opposition parties for charging for these services.

In its guidelines, the national carrier has said that trains will travel only if they have 90 percent occupancy.