Rly receives demand for 321 Shramik Special trains; decision likely on discontinuation soon: Sources

New Delhi, Jun 1 (PTI) The Railways has received a request for 321 more trains from various states and is likely to take a decision to end these services soon, sources said on Monday.

While the Railways has maintained that it will run these trains as long as there is demand, a letter from the Chairman Railway Board to the states on May 29 had requested that they look at their list of registered migrants still wanting to return and provide their requirement for such trains by May 30 so that these services can be planned.

By May 30 evening, demand for 321 such trains have been received, the sources said.

Since May 31, the Railways has run 4,000 such trains ferrying around 56 lakh migrants home, the demand for such trains has tapered down from the states. Most of these 321 trains are to terminate in West Bengal, they said.

The Railways, which is running over 200 Shramik Special trains on an average, has the capacity to complete the demand of 321 trains in the next two days, the sources said.

However, it has to run these services keeping in mind the requirements of the states, which are asking them to be sent in a staggered manner.

On Sunday, the Railways operated only 69 such trains, officials said.

Over 42.2 per cent of these trains have been received by Uttar Pradesh, followed by Bihar with 36.5 per cent, Jharkhand with 4.8 per cent, Odisha 3.2 per cent, West Bengal 2.3 per cent and received by the remaining states.

Shramik Special trains are being operated primarily on the request of the states, which want to send migrant workers stranded due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown to their native places.

While the Indian Railways is bearing 85 per cent of the total cost of these trains, states are bearing 15 per cent of it in the form of fares.

The nationwide lockdown has had a devastating impact on the economy as well as on the livelihoods of lakhs of migrant workers.

The plight of migrant workers, who were walking from several urban centres to their villages hundreds of kilometres away, had grabbed headlines for almost two months.

There have been incidents of many of them being killed in road accidents. A number of migrant labourers were even killed by a speeding train after they fell asleep on the tracks.

On May 1, the Railways started the migrant special trains to facilitate the movement of such workers back to their home states.

While on the first day, four such trains were operated, the maximum number of 279 trains were operated on May 20. PTI ASG KJ KJ