Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has announced that the Indian Railways will start running 200 Shramik Special trains every day from 1 June. This will be a huge expansion from the existing 15 trains currently being run to transport stranded migrant workers.
Goyal wrote on Twitter in a series of tweets, “Huge relief for workers….Indian Railways will run 200 non-AC trains daily as per the time table from 1 June, whose online booking will start soon.”
He added, “With in the next 2 days Indian Railways will double the number of Shramik Special Trains to 400 per day. All migrants are requested to stay where they are, Indian Railways will get them back home over the next few days.”
With in the next 2 days Indian Railways will double the number of Shramik Special Trains to 400 per day. All migrants are requested to stay where they are, Indian Railways will get them back home over the next few days.
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 19, 2020
The Indian Railways has not yet specified as to which routes these new non-AC trains will run on. A report by news agency PTI said that the focus will be on connecting smaller towns.
Millions of migrant workers have been forced to walk barefoot hundreds of kilometers for want of public transport system, which came to a grinding halt following a sudden announcement of a national lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March. Dozens of them have died while returning to their home states.
Faced with criticism, the Indian government had begun a gradual resumption of train services from 12 May. These trains, all fully AC, are currently running as special trains from New Delhi Station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
The cost of a ticket is at par with what a passenger would pay for travelling in a Rajdhani Express train.
India has recorded more than one lakh positive COVID-19 cases with the total death toll reaching 3163. Maharashtra and Gujarat are the two worst-hit states.