The special trains taking lakhs of stranded migrant workers back home during the coronavirus lockdown will now run at full capacity, the Railways said today. The “Shramik Special” trains will also have three stops in the destination state apart from the final stop on the request made by states, the Railways state.
The capacity of passengers in each special train should be equal to the number of sleeper berths on the train, the Railways said.
The “Shramik Special” trains have 24 coaches with a capacity to carry 72 passengers in each coach. Currently, these trains are running with 54 passengers in each coach due to social distancing norms. So far, the Indian Railways has ferried over 5 lakh passengers since May 1.
“The Railways has a capacity to run 300 trains per day and we want to maximize it. We want to carry as many migrants home as possible over the next few days and have appealed to states to send approvals,” a senior official was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Earlier, the Indian Railways had issued a set of guidelines for its zones for running the special trains, saying the trains should have at least 90 percent occupancy to operate and ensure social distancing by not allotting the middle berth to any passenger.
The government announced the special trains to ferry migrant workers back home after a huge backlash over stranded workers walking back to their home states. On Saturday, the government said the Railways has operated 302 “Shramik Special” trains since May 1 and ferried home more than 3 lakh migrants stranded in various parts of the country.
After criticism from the opposition for making the migrants pay for their train journey, official sources said the government was already subsidising 85 per cent of the ticket fare and that it was up to the states to bear the remaining cost of the ticket.