Mumbai: The desperate journey home of migrant workers headed from Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh on some Shramik Special trains just got longer, adding to the misery of the beleaguered labourers. Passengers on one such train for Gorakhpur, which left from Vasai Road station on May 21, were flummoxed on Saturday when they found they had reached Rourkela in Odisha instead.
Some of the workers on the train were worried that the driver may have lost his way. However, railway officials clarified that the route to the final destination, Rourkela, had been changed owing to congestion caused by a large number of Shramik Special trains being run. Western Railway said a deviation of the route had been necessitated by congestion on the planned route. However, there was no explanation on why passengers were kept in the dark about the change in route and the longer journey.
The diversion came to light only when the passengers on the Shramik Special posted a video of the incident on social media on Satuday. “I boarded the Shramik Special train on May 21 to go back to Gorakhpur; but now the train has been stopped in Odisha, and people are saying that the driver has lost his way,” Shailendra Singh, a passenger on the train is heard saying in the video.
Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer (CPRO), Western Railway said, “The Vasai Road - Gorakhpur Shramik Special train which departed on 21st May, 2020 was to run on Kalyan-Jalgaon- Bhusawal-KhandwaItarsi-Jabalpur-Manikpur route, but this train will go to Gorakhpur by diverted route i.e. via Bilaspur (SECR), Jharsuguda, Rourkela, Adra, Asansol (ER) due to heavy traffic congestion on existing routes.”
“Due to heavy congestion on Itarsi-Jabalpur-Pt. Deen Dayal Nagar route in view of running of large numbers of Shramik Special trains, it is decided by the Railway Board to run the trains originating from Vasai Road, Udhna, Surat, Valsad, Ankleshwar of WR, Konkan Railway and some stations of Central Railway temporarily on diverted route via Bilaspur-Jharsuguda- Rourkela,” Bhakar said.
In a video posted online, a passenger on another Shramik Special train originating from Maharashtra and headed to Gorakhpur, is heard saying, "We boarded the Shramik Special train on May 21 to go back to Gorakhpur. However, despite 23 hours of journey, we are still in Maharashtra. We don't have anything to eat and there is no water in the train. And why is the train going towards Nagpur from Bhusawal?”