‘No room’: Trains bound for Mumbai, Delhi are running jam-packed
At a time when the fear of Covid-19 is still forcing people to stay back home, the majority of trains heading towards metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai, besides cities in Gujarat, are running packed. Railway officials call it a possible reverse migration that has left the majority of Mumbai and Delhi bound trains with ‘no room’.
The rush is so much that northeastern railways (NER), Lucknow division, which is currently plying six pairs of trains, including two pairs for Delhi and four for Mumbai, has urged the Railway Board to increase the number of trains on these routes.
“In the present ‘Unlock’ phase, six pairs of special trains are operating from our division. Of them, two pairs are Delhi bound and four pairs, including the prestigious Pushpak, are Mumbai bound,” said Monica Agnihotri, divisional railway manager (DRM), Lucknow division, NER.
As per some senior officials of the NER, around 18,750 passengers board these trains daily from Lucknow and other cities of the division on an average.
As per the current scenario, all four Mumbai-bound trains, including 02541 Gorakhpur-Mumbai LTT, Pushpak Express, Gorakhpur Bandra Terminus Avadh Covid-19 Special and Kushi Nagar Express, have long waiting list. Similarly, two Delhi-bound trains of NER’s Lucknow division too have a long waiting list.
Both Delhi and Mumbai bound trains of the NER, Lucknow division, have witnessed a formidable rise in the occupancy rate in the last three months.
“In June, the passenger occupancy rate in all six trains, including Pushpak, originating from Lucknow was 89 percent. However, in July and August, the occupancy rate in all the trains touched the 100-percent mark,” a senior official said.
“Following the high occupancy rate in the trains going towards Mumbai, the division has moved a proposal to the Railway Board, seeking more trains on the particular route in order to cater to the rise in the number of passengers,” said DRM, Lucknow division. “At the same time, we are strictly ensuring that the Covid-19 protocol is followed and social distancing is maintained,” she added.
Other than the NER, a similar trend is observed in the 5 pairs of trains being operated by the Northern Railway from its Lucknow division. Of them, two each are bound for Delhi and Mumbai while one is for Gujarat. These include Delhi-bound Gomti express special, Ahemdabad-bound Sabarmati special, Mumbai-bound Kamayani express special, Mumbai-bound Mahanagri special train and Delhi-bound Mahanama express.
The officials, however, said barring June, when the passenger occupancy rate was low, the occupancy rate in trains was 100 percent in July and August. Moreover, some railway officials call it a reverse migration of labourers and workers that is leaving no room in trains.
“It was expected. The migrants who returned during lockdown are now going back to their workplaces which is causing rush in trains,” a railway official said.
One Irshad Alam of Siddharthnagar, on his way to Surat in Gujarat by Muzaffarpur Bandra terminus Avadh Covid-19 special train, said, “Nothing like spending time with family and working in our own hometown. But due to fewer job opportunities here, we are forced to migrate for work. I think I may end up getting jobless if I don’t go back.”
Besides him, there were several other migrants who claimed they were moving back to their workplace. “I returned from Shramik special train on May 19. Since then, I was sitting idle. Hence I decided to head back to work. In Gujarat, the working conditions are good and so is the remuneration—Rs 400 per day along with accommodation,” said another worker Raghuraj Singh from Devari village in Kasganj district. He said he worked at a brick kiln in Gujarat.
On being asked what wage was offered to a worker at his native place, he said it was quite low without further elaborating.
During a massive drive launched during the lockdown, the UP government had brought back over 20 lakh migrants from across the country.