LUCKNOW: For loco pilot Haridas and guard Rajeev Raikwar, the 02121 Shramik Special wasn't just another train.
It was something they will tell their grandchildren about when they ask what they did during the lockdown of 2020.
The 'workers's special' the two rolled into Lucknow Sunday morning was the first such train to Uttar Pradesh, bringing home 800 migrant labourers stranded for weeks in Maharashtra.
Haridas who drove the train from Jhansi to Lucknow a part of its journey from Nashik in Maharashtra had stayed home during the nationwide lockdown against coronavirus.
And his family in Jhansi was apprehensive about the job, amid the pandemic.
"Going to a red zone gave them tense moments. However, I responded to the call of duty and have no regrets," he told PTI, calling the assignment a 'unique experience'.
Haridas said he is happy he helped in uniting the stranded workers with their families.
"I will also tell stories of my duty during the lockdown to my grandchildren, he said.
Rajeev Raikwar, the guard who got onto the train along with him, too felt happy for doing his bit.
"Overall, the experience was good and I will tell my stories of the lockdown and about discharging my duties to my grandchildren, he said. The family was telling me to say no, sensing danger. But duty is duty, he said.
The RPF personnel in the train informed the passengers at regular intervals that they should not step down at any station, he said.
They workers were to be allowed to head for their home districts only after a medical examination in Lucknow.
The train had 12 sleeper coaches, four general coaches and a guard coach, which also accommodated the Railway Protection Force jawans.
Social distance was ensured in all coaches, according to the guard.
Buses waited for the workers in Lucknow for their onward journeys.
Bus driver Nizamuddin, who is from Ballia district, drove the ones headed to Orai, Jhansi and Lalitpur.
"It is for the first time that I am performing a duty of this nature. I feel satisfied that I can give people a reason to smile, he said. He said his children were worried. But I have faith in God and believe that everything will be back on track very soon."
The Nashik-Lucknow train was among the special trains announced by the railways to ferry migrants to their homes in different parts of the country.
It left Nashik on Saturday morning, reaching Jhansi at 11.55 pm.
It stopped for five minutes, allowing Haridas and Rajeev Raikwar to get on board.