New Delhi, May 17 (PTI) The Indian Railways has operated 1,300 'Shramik Special' trains since May 1, ferrying more than 17 lakh workers, it said on Sunday.
During the last three days, more than 2 lakh people have been transported per day. In days to come, it is expected to be scaled up to 3 lakh passengers per day, the Railways said.
Out of the trains which have terminated so far, the maximum has been in Uttar Pradesh. The state has so far given approval for over 500 trains, followed by Bihar with almost 300 trains.
The operation of these trains has, however, led to a political mudslinging with the opposition accusing centre of charging fare from migrants.
The Union government has clarified that the fare is being shared on a 85-15 ratio between the Railways and the state governments.
'We are fully ready for large scale operation of Shramik spl (special) trains. So far more than 1300 trains (have operated) and more than 17 lakh people (have been ferried),' a railway spokesperson said.
The centre has also said it has the capacity to run 300 Shramik Specials per day with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal appealing to states like West Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand to approve more trains.
A Shramik Special train carries around 1,700 passengers, instead of the earlier 1,200, to ferry as many workers home as possible.
Initially these trains had no scheduled stoppages during the journey, but the Railways now allows up to three stoppages in the destination states.
While the transporter 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.
Since the Shramik Special service started, Gujarat has remained the top originating state, followed by Kerala. Earlier, the 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 percent occupancy. PTI ASG RHL