NEW DELHI: Starting June 1, the Railways will deploy 200 special non-AC passenger trains daily for the benefit of stranded migrants, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday.
In a tweet, Goyal said, “Apart from the Shramik Special Trains, Indian Railways will run 200 non-AC trains daily as per the time table from June 1, whose online booking will start soon.”
Currently, the Railways operates 30 special trains to 15 destinations from Delhi. These special trains, called Rajdhani Express, are fully air-conditioned and accept bookings online.
The national transporter has thus far ferried around 14 lakh stranded people to their home states in almost 1,600 Shramik trains.
The rail minister also said the number of these trains would be increased to help migrant workers reach their homes.
He urged the state governments to help workers in registering themselves at the nearest mainline station.
“State governments are requested to help workers and register them with the nearest mainline station and give the list to the railways, so that the railway workers can run special trains. Workers are requested to stay put in their place, the Indian Railways will take them to their desired destination,” Goyal tweeted in Hindi.
Railways has been running Shramik special trains since May 1 ferrying over 2 lakh stranded Indians each day.
The national transporter, in a statement last week, had said the daily capacity of the Shramik trains would be increased to around 3 lakh passengers.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Home Affairs revised the guidelines for movement of stranded workers via special Shramik trains.
Now, consent of receiving states is not needed for trains to pull in with migrant workers. The Centre will take the final call on train schedule, stoppages and destination.
Railway spokesperson Rajesh Dutt Bajpai said, "Consent of terminating state not necessary to run 'Shramik Special' trains."
He further said, "After the new SoP, the implication is that no consent of the receiving state is mandatory".
Over the last few weeks, the Centre has alleged that some states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, which have a significant migrant population in other states were not giving permission for migrant trains resulting in lakhs of them walking towards their homes hundreds of kilometers away.
While the states have denied the allegations, data has shown otherwise.
The new rule of bypassing the destination state will significantly ease the movement of migrants, officials said, with railways needing approval only from the originating states.
The national transporter hopes to run up to 300 such trains and carry the remaining migrants home over the next week, the officials said.
While Uttar Pradesh has allowed 837 trains into the state, Bihar has received 428 and Madhya Pradesh more than 100 trains, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said in a tweet on Tuesday.
However, till Monday evening, some other migrant heavy states had agreed to receive very few trains -- Chhattisgarh approved only 19 trains, Rajasthan only 33 trains and Jharkhand only 72 trains, according to official data.
According to the officials, while the railways has the capacity to run around 300 trains per day, it is operating half of that number because destination states are not sending an adequate number of approvals.
A 'Shramik Special' train carries around 1,700 passengers, instead of the earlier 1,200, to ferry as many workers home as possible.
Initially, these trains had no scheduled stoppages during the journey, but the railways now allows up to three stoppages in the destination states.
While the transporter is yet to announce the cost incurred on these special services, the officials indicated that the national transporter is spending around Rs 80 lakh per service.
(WITH PTI INPUTS)