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31 lakh people ferried so far in Shramik Special trains as government expects more inter-state transport movement due to lockdown relaxations

According to the railways, the opening of booking centres will mark an important step in graded restoration of passenger railway services.

Published: 22nd May 2020 06:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd May 2020 08:03 AM   |  A+A-

A migrant looks through a window during his departure for Odisha by 'Shramik Special' train at Panvel Railway Station amid the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown in Navi Mumbai

For representational purposes (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: With domestic air travel set to resume and additional 200 passenger trains to be operated, the government on Friday expressed confidence these steps will help increase inter-state movement of people even as the Railways ferried over 31 lakh migrant workers on 2,317 'Shramik Special' trains since May 1.

As the government further eases the transport curbs, the resumed air services from May 25 will roughly account for 870 flights with an estimated capacity of 1.3 lakh passengers.

About a third of domestic operations will be allowed under strict norms when flight services restart after a two-month hiatus following the coronavirus lockdown.

For the 200 special express/mail trains that are expected to run from June one, a total of 5,72,219 tickets have been booked for around 12,54,706 passengers since the morning of May 21, railway sources said.

A total of 30 special air-conditioned trains on multiple Rajdhani routes linked to Delhi are already in operation since May 12.

Official sources said that between April 30 and May 6, 27.15 lakh people moved one from one state to another by road and rail transport provided by the government.

During May 7 to May 12, an estimated 39.71 lakh people moved across the states, the sources said.

The sources said the number showed that a large number of people have moved to their destinations.

Increasing transportation and addition of air services from May 25 will further improve the mobility, they said, adding people should not create panic and are advised to plan for their destinations accordingly.

In a statement, the Railways has urged migrants not to panic and said efforts were being made to ensure that all of them were able to travel to their home states at the earliest.

According to 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.

In a significant move, the Railways has allowed select reservation counters to open at stations, nearly two months after they were shut due to the lockdown, with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal saying "we have to take India towards normalcy".

According to official data with the Railways, 31 lakh migrant workers on board 2,317 ‘Shramik Special' trains were transported to their home states since May 1, almost seven lakh more than the initial projection of 24 lakh.

The initial estimation of migrant workers to be transported back to their home towns were based on details provided by various state governments to the zonal offices of the Railways in late April when it was deciding on protocols to run the special trains, officials said.

However, the national transporter said it does not have current details of the total number of stranded migrant labourers who want to return to their homes and are operating trains based on the requirements of the states.

The coronavirus lockdown in force since March 25 has put the spotlight on the miseries of migrant workers whose journeys on foot from several urban centres to their villages hundreds of kilometres away grabbed headlines for almost the last two months.

There have been several incidents of migrants being killed in road accidents across the country.

Sixteen migrant workers were also killed after coming under a goods train in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district on May 8.

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