171 Shramik Special Trains operated so far, more than 1.70 lakh migrants ferried: Railways

New Delhi: The Indian Railways on Thursday said it has operated 171 Shramik Special trains since May 1 and ferried home over 1.70 lakh migrants stranded in various parts of the country due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

While 22 such trains have already departed on Thursday, 26 more trains are scheduled to run by tonight, including the first train to originate from New Delhi carrying 1,200 migrant workers to Madhya Pradesh, it said.

Railways said it ran 56 Shramik Special Trains on Wednesday.

"We are planning to run some more trains by the end of the day," a railway spokesperson said.

Every special train has 24 coaches, each with a capacity of 72 seats. But the national transporter is allowing only 54 people in a coach to maintain social distancing norms by not allotting the middle berth to any passenger.

While the railways has officially not stated how much it has spent so far on these services, the cost for which the government says has been shared on an 85:15 ratio with states, officials indicated that the national transporter has spent around Rs 80 lakh per service.

Since the beginning of the services, Gujarat remained one of the top originating stations, followed by Kerala.

Among the receiving states, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh remained the top states.

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

In its guidelines, the railways has said the trains will ply only if they have 90 per cent occupancy and the "states should collect the ticket fare".

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Free Press Journal