The Indian Railways stepped into the monumental task with no precedence or past experience of this magnitude to refer or rely on. For the Railways, as the most affordable, safe and mass mode of transport, it was a conscious call of duty.
In all, so far CR has run about 600 Shramik Specials carrying more than 8.5 lakh migrants to their destinations. These Shramik Specials were run for many states: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telagana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The mission “Back Home” operation or train operation for sending the migrant workers back to their home involved direct train services from Central Railway to states of Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur for the first time.
Of the total trains operated about 66% were run by Mumbai Division, about 23% by Pune division & about 11% by Solapur, Bhusaval & Nagpur divisions. As maximum trains were run by Mumbai division, the other four divisions put in their might by maintaining 8-9 rakes at their depots on days when demand peaked.
Planning, Maintenance, Running of Shramik Specials:
Beneath the veneer of an orderly train schedule were the "behind the scene working". The operation staff for overall co-ordination, Mechanical staff who maintained the coaches, Electrical staff for maintaining the locomotives, running the trains, maintaining the electrics at stations and in coaches, Security i.e. RPF for maintaining queue formation, thermal screening of passengers, Commercial staff for liaison with the State Government authorities, allotment of seats, arranging meals & co-ordination with IRCTC, Engineering, S&T & OHE staff for maintaining the assets like track, signals, OHE , Medical staff/Doctors to attend emergency cases / give medical aid etc, were coordinated with clock like precision work. A dedicated team of officers in co-ordination with state government authorities made the gigantic task easy and simple.
War room behind the scene:
The control office working 24 X 7 for monitoring, planning of trains; officers’ physical availability at stations, control offices and round the clock on tele-conference for co-ordinated efforts to run Shramik Specials safe, punctual & as per the demand of state government.
With staff living scattered in Mumbai, some in containment zones, the onus of train operation squarely rested on the shoulders of the limited staff & officers, who never left their guard down and worked tirelessly till dawn on most days to ensure everything is going well.
Amid lockdown, Central Railway staff rose to the occasion. Many staff i.e. corona warriors reached the offices by starting early in the morning by walk and other means and made it possible to run the Shramik specials.