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After 48-hour wait, only 456 board Kerala train

By Ankita G Menon, Thane
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2020 12:11 AM IST

After waiting for more than 48 hours, only 456 people boarded a train to Kerala on Tuesday night. A total of the 1,200 passengers were initially scheduled to board the Shramik special train was supposed to leave Thane for Ernakulam on Sunday evening but was cancelled a few hours before the scheduled departure, leaving passengers stranded.

“The train, which was scheduled to depart for Kerala on Sunday, had to be cancelled after a request from the Kerala government,” said Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer, Central Railway, Mumbai.

The tired and confused passengers who had already reached Thane station on Sunday evening stay put in the area and on platforms.

“We had vacated our rented flat, hoping to get into the train on Sunday. We had spent a huge amount to find accommodation near Thane station. We managed to get our names listed in the Shramik train leaving Thane on Tuesday,” said Rajesh Shankaran, 34, resident of Ambernath.

The train to Kerala was the first scheduled service from Thane after one train departed from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at Kurla, Mumbai. When passengers boarded the train after a long wait, they found the coaches dirty and that the train had only seater coaches for the over 24-hour journey.

“There were no sleeper coaches. After waiting for around six hours at Thane station on Tuesday, we boarded a train that had no sleeper coaches and was very dirty. But, we were happy that we are about to reach our hometown after a long struggle,” said Byma Vasanth, 45, a resident of Thane.

The Central Railway claimed that the train had been cleaned before departure.

“We checked with the station manager, who said coaches were cleaned before departure. There were few passengers so seater coaches will help maintain social distancing and also ensure the comfort of passengers,” said AK Jain, senior public relations officer Central Railway, Mumbai.

Shashikumar Nair, general secretary, All Thane Malayalee Association, who was coordinating between the passengers and the railways, said that the Kerala government permitted only 456 people to be sent.

“As we only got permission for 456 people, we had to choose those who had to reach their hometown. The passengers were mostly those who lived near the station,” said Nair.

“The train, which was scheduled to depart around 6pm on Tuesday, left at 11.30pm. The passengers from Thane, Vasai, Andheri, and Navi Mumbai had reached the station at least four hours before the scheduled time to complete the formalities such as medical test and verification,” he said.

On Wednesday, a Shramik special train with 1,700 passengers left Kalyan for Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

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