New Delhi: In next ten days, 36 lakh migrants will be travelling on the Shramik Special trains, said Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board at a press conference on Saturday. Yadav said states are requested to forth their needs on ferrying the migrants during the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
These special trains have been operating since 1 May to ferry the stranded migrants in various parts of the country.
"On an average, 260 Shramik Special trains operated every day for last 4 days, carrying 3 lakh passengers daily," said Yadav while adding that 80% of the train journeys have been undertaken by the migrant labourers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
2,600 Shramik Special trains completed journey since 1 May, taking over 35 lakh passengers to their destination, said the Railway Board chairman. He also said that 85% of expenditure of Shramik Special trains is being borne by Centre while states are paying 15% in form of fares. "All migrants will reach destination as quickly as possible. Shramik Special trains will continue to run till there is need for it," the official said.
"17 railway hospitals have been turned into Covid-19 care hospitals. We had converted 5,000 coaches into Covid-19 care centres, with 80,000 beds. Since some of these were not being used right now, we used 50% of these coaches for Shramik special trains. If needed, they will be used again for Covid-19 care," said Yadav.
"Ministry of Railways has contributed immensely in the effort to domestically produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and sanitisers and produced 1.2 lakh coveralls and 1.4 lakh litres sanitiser," he added.
Yadav also said that uninterrupted freight movement operations by Ministry of Railways have ensured delivery of 9.7 million tonnes of foodgrains between 1 April and 22 May and that 3,255 new Parcel Special trains have been running since 22 March.
In an effort towards returning to normalcy, Ministry of Railways will run 200 Mail Express trains starting 1 June, said Yadav. Special train fares are same as pre-lockdown period but senior citizens' concessions will not be allowed to prevent unnecessary travel, he further said.
"Cyclone Amphan was a natural calamity. West Bengal Chief Secretary wrote to me that restoration work is underway and they'll tell us soon when they'll be able to receive the trains. As soon as they give us a clearance, we'll run the trains to West Bengal," Yadav said about the situation in the cyclone-hit West Bengal.