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932 ‘Shramik Special’ trains operated so far, over 11 lakh migrants ferried home

New Delhi: The Indian Railways has operated 932 Shramik Special trains since May 1, ferrying home 11 lakh migrant workers who were stranded in various parts of the country due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, officials said on Friday.

On Friday, railways operated 145 such trains.

Of these, Uttar Pradesh received the maximum number of trains followed by Bihar, they said.

Out of the 932 trains which have been operated so far, 215 are in transit while 717 have terminated at various stations. Sixty-seven more are in the pipeline, an official said.

These 932 trains were terminated in various states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Mizoram, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

So far, Uttar Pradesh has given approval for 487 trains, followed by Bihar which has given nod for 254 and Madhya Pradesh for 79 trains.

The number stands at 48 for Jharkhand, 22 for Rajasthan and nine for West Bengal.

Proper screening of the passengers is being carried out before they board the trains, railways said, adding that during the journey, the passengers are given free meals and water.

From Monday, these Shramik Special trains started carrying around 1,700 passengers each, instead of the earlier 1,200, to ferry as many workers home as possible.

While initially these trains had no stoppages, railways announced on Monday that up to three stoppages in the destination states will be allowed. The decision was taken after several state governments made a request in this regard, officials said.

While railways is yet to announce the cost incurred on these special services, officials indicated that the national transporter is spending around Rs 80 lakh per service.

The Centre had earlier stated that the cost of the services was shared on a 85:15 ratio between Centre and states.

Since the Shramik Special train service started, Gujarat has remained the top originating state, followed by Kerala.

Earlier, railways drew flak from opposition parties for charging for these services.

In its guidelines, the national transporter has said the trains will ply only if they have 90 per cent occupancy.

On Monday, a statement issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said railways will now run 100 Shramik Specials every day to facilitate faster movement of stranded workers.