Pune: ‘People are everywhere… on the seats, on the floor and on the upper berth’

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Railway authorities said considering the swelling crowds in the last few days, the Pune Division has decided to run two additional trains. (Representational Photo)

The fear of coronavirus and the closure of business establishments across the city has prompted thousands of immigrant workers to leave Pune in the last few days.

At the Pune railway station on Friday, trains headed to north India were packed to capacity, with hundreds of passengers cramped inside coaches meant to hold only 72 passengers.

The scenes at overcrowded compartments of the Pune-Lucknow Express, Pune-Jammu Tawi Jhelum Express and Pune-Patna Danapur Express were similar to the rush seen during Diwali or Holi celebrations.

Ramzan Ali, who used to work as a cook in a city restaurant, and is now headed back home in Lucknow Express, said, “I am leaving for home as my family is worried about me. They asked me to return home immediately. They are okay even if I lose my job.”

Ali said while he had a confirmed ticket, the S-10 coach he was in had almost 250 passengers. “People are everywhere. On the seats, on the floor and on the upper berth,” he said.

Railway authorities said considering the swelling crowds in the last few days, the Pune Division has decided to run two additional trains Pune-Patna Danapur Express and Pune-Howrah Express.

“We have been monitoring the situation... there is a huge demand, so we decided to operate two special trains. Bookings for these special trains opened at 8 am and in less than one-and-a-half hours, the trains were full, with 200 people wait-listed... we will continue to run the special trains tomorrow as well. There are more trains from Mumbai,” said Manoj Jhawar, Railways' Pune Division spokesperson.

Jhawar said the administration was taking all possible efforts and appealing to passengers to maintain personal hygiene. “We are asking them to not spit, carry hand sanitiser and wear masks,” he said.