NEW DELHI: The railways will charge state governments for ferrying people stranded due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown in its 'Shramik Special' trains, according to an order issued on Friday. The fare would include cost of sleeper class ticket, superfast charge of Rs 30 and Rs 20 for meals and water per passenger.
After more than a month of suspension of services, the railways on Friday, which is also International Labour Day, announced six "Shramik Special" trains for migrant workers, students and others who were stranded due to the lockdown.
The first such service was run with 1,200 passengers from Hyderabad to Jharkhand at 4:50 am on Friday. The other five which are scheduled to run include -- Nasik to Lucknow (at 9:30 pm), Aluva to Bhubaneswar (6 pm), Nasik to Bhopal (8 pm), Jaipur to Patna and Kota to Hatia (9 pm).
Each train is expected to carry 1,000-1,200 passengers. "Passengers need not buy anything from the railways. State governments will coordinate and pay on their behalf," the railways said. Thousands of migrants were stranded in places across the country since the lockdown was enforced on March 25, many even attempting to walk home hundreds of kilometres away.
On Friday, the Ministry of Home Affairs gave permission to the railways to run special trains for migrants and those stranded in different parts of the country. States like Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Telangana have requested special trains to ferry migrant workers back to their home states.
"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.
Officials said that a list of hundreds of such services have been planned by zonal railways over the coming days. The railways also clarified that that these are special trains planned for nominated people identified and registered by state governments.
"No one under any circumstance should come to Railway station looking for trains. We will not issue any tickets to any individual or entertain any request from any group or individual. We will allow only those passengers to board whom state govt officials will bring to Railway Stations. State government is the final authority to decide that who will travel in our trains," a railways spokesperson said.