As states go quiet, Shramik train services down to a fifth of their peak daily runs

Ananya Sengupta

New Delhi, Jun 3 (PTI) The daily runs of the Shramik Special trains, which once averaged around 250, have now reduced to a paltry 50 due to a dwindling demand for the services from state governments, official data showed on Wednesday.

Over the last three days, the Railways ran 69 trains on Sunday, 46 on Monday, and 41 trains on Tuesday. Around 30 trains are scheduled for Wednesday, the data showed.

Since May 1, the Railways has operated 4,197 Shramik trains ferrying 58 lakh migrants home, according to the latest data.

While on the first day, four such trains were operated, the number reached its peak on May 20, when 279 such trains were operated.

As of now, Gujarat and Delhi have indicated that they are not in need of more Shramik trains. The last trains to originate from any railway station in Delhi was on May 31, and the same day Gujarat Labour Ministry announced closure of all migrant train services.

The top five States/UTs from where maximum trains originated are Gujarat (1,026), Maharashtra (802), Punjab (416), Uttar Pradesh (294) and Bihar (294).

The top five states where maximum trains terminated are Uttar Pradesh (1,682), Bihar (1,495), Jharkhand (197), Odisha (187), West Bengal (156).

The Ministry of Home Affairs permitted movement of stranded persons through special trains on May 1, after the plight of migrant workers, who had started walking from several urban centres to their villages hundreds of kilometres away, grabbed headlines.

Initially the trains were run with the consent of both the originating and terminating states, mid-May, a government order cut out the need for consent from the terminating states in the operations of these trains.

While 85 per cent of the cost of operations are being borne by the Railways, the states are paying 15 per cent of the cost in the form of fares.

The operation of these trains was also plagued by major congestion between May 20 and May 24, forcing delays and leading to protests over lack of food and water. The Railways later clarified that only 71 trains had been delayed for more 72 hours primarily because 80 per cent of the trains were moving to either Uttar Pradesh or Bihar.

While 80 deaths have been reported on board the Shramik trains, the Railways has denied that they had issued any comprehensive data on it.

It, however, said its staffers facilitated at least 36 deliveries on board these trains.

Officials said there were requests for 321 more trains according to the last demand sent by states on May 30. The Railways will run them in a staggered manner based on the requirement of the states, they added.

A decision on the discontinuation of these special trains will be taken soon.

In addition to Shramik Specials, the Railways is running 15 pairs of special Rajdhani-type trains connecting New Delhi and major cities across the country, and it has started 200 additional scheduled trains from June 1. PTI ASG ABH ABH ABH