NEW DELHI: With a surge in demand for migrant special trains to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Railways is struggling to maintain the operating schedule of its Shramik Special trains leading to major diversions -- and complaints from travelling workers.
The Railways has operated over 2,810 Shramik Special trains since May 1, carrying over 37 lakh passengers, 80 per cent of whom were bound for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, leading to major congestion on the routes, the Railways said.
While 1,301 of these trains were bound for Uttar Pradesh, 973 terminated in Bihar. "Most of the destinations in UP are around the Lucknow-Gorakhpur sector. In Bihar, it's around Patna. Of 565 trains that began their journeys yesterday, 266 were going to Bihar and 172 to Uttar Pradesh.
¨Convergence of trains to these destinations caused congestion on the network. Further, increased time taken in de-boarding of passengers due to the various health and social distancing protocols at stations is leading to congestion at terminals which further affects network congestion," the Railways said in a statement.
The statement came after reports that a migrant special train which was to reach Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh reached Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
On Saturday, a Shramik Special train from Mumbai which was to reach Gorakhpur, on Friday evening after a 24-hour journey, was rerouted via Odisha, adding two days and five states to the original journey.
Officials said that the routes were so congested that it was difficult to operate trains on them and routes in eastern Uttar Pradesh like Goraphpur-Gonda-Lucknow were completely saturated.
"To ease the congestion, a few trains were diverted via Mathura, Jharsuguda. Further, route rationalisation order has been issued to avoid congestion on routes with heavy traffic. Round the clock monitoring at Railway Board level, zonal railway level and divisional level is being done to ensure that trains are not delayed.
"The train running staff have also been sensitised to ensure punctual running of Shramik Special trains. With these efforts, the congestion position has eased considerably and the mobility of trains has drastically improved," the Railways said.
To add to the misery of migrant labourers, due to the network congestion, trains got delayed affecting the meal distribution schedule leading to thousands of passengers going hungry and thirsty.
There were reports from many railway stations about protests by passengers over meals were being provided.
"The IRCTC and the Railways have mobilized resources to ensure regular supply of meals and water to the Shramik trains and minimize inconvenience to the passengers,the Railways said.