Railways says trains won’t stop, announces 4 specials
Indian Railways’ Northern Railway zone plans to deploy four additional special trains from New Delhi to Bihar over the next three days to cater to demand as migrants seek to head back to their home states amid the announcement of a curfew in Delhi till next Monday.
The railway ministry on Monday reiterated that there is no crowding at stations in Delhi amid reports of migrants rushing to the stations after the announcement of the week-long curfew in New Delhi. The ministry spokesperson said trains will continue to run even during the curfew.
“Today evening there was some speculation about the crowd coming to station or rush building up. It is requested that all may avoid such reports as the reality is different...Rush and crowd happen when there is a speculation that trains would not be available at all or will be stopped. There is no such situation now. Trains are not going to be stopped and I think public knows about it. They know that, if they don’t get to travel today, they can go the next day or later on. Even under the curfew guidelines, one is allowed to travel to the station with a valid ticket. There is nothing to panic,” railway ministry spokesperson DJ Narain said.
However, the sale of platform tickets at railway stations in Delhi has been suspended to regulate entry of the passengers and avoid crowding at platforms. “Due to surge in Covid-19 cases, Delhi Division of Northern Railway has decided to stop the sale of platform tickets with immediate effect till further orders to regulate the entry of passengers at platforms and station premises,” Northern Railways’ DRM tweeted.
Keen to avoid a situation like last year, the Indian Railways is adding additional summer special trains to cater to the rush of migrants headed home, taking the current train service operations to around 70% of pre-Covid times, HT reported last Friday.
Last March, railways suspended regular passenger train services during the nationwide lockdown.
Over the past week the railways have planned 69 additional ‘summer special trains’ to cater to the rush being reported across stations. Till April 30, the national transporter has planned 133 additional trains with 88 ‘summer specials’ and 45 ‘festival special’ trains.
According to railway ministry’s data till Wednesday, the national carrier has approved total of 9,622 special trains and at present it is running an average of 7,745 trains as compared to an average 11,283 trains during pre-Covid times. Out of these a total of 5,387 suburban trains are currently deployed which is nearly 92% of pre-covid capacity with the maximum services operating in the Central Railway zone that caters to Mahrashtra’s high populated cities including Mumbai and Pune.
According to the railways these additional trains are for destinations having high demand like Gorakhpur, Patna, Darbhanga, Varanasi, Guwahati, Barauni, Prayagraj, Bokaro, Ranchi and Lucknow.
Amid lockdown curbs being announced by states with heavy migrant population like Maharashtra, several cities have reported an unusual rush of people across interstate bus stations and railway stations though the railway ministry has also maintained that the rush is regular summer festival rush.
On May 1 last year, the centre began operating ‘Shramik Special’ trains to ferry lakhs stranded migrants back to their home states. The national carrier last year deployed total of 4621 special trains and carried 63.1 lakh migrants. The trains ferried the maximum number of migrants to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the country’s most populous states, followed by Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.