Operation of Shramik Special trains from Kerala to facilitate the return of migrant labourers stranded in the State following the COVID-19-induced lockdown is coming to a close. The last Shramik Special from the State to Dibrugarh in Assam via Bihar will leave the Thiruvananthapuram Central on June 20.
Since the start of the operation on May 1, Railways have operated 226 trains from the State. Thiruvananthapuram railway division operated 125 Shramik Specials from six railway stations, including Kanyakumari, to transport 1,73,845 migrant labourers and the Palakkad rail division 117 trains from another six stations, including Mangaluru, to transport 1,65,839 migrants.
The longest Shramik Special was run from Thiruvananthapuram to Dimapur on June 9 with the Government of Nagaland paying the fare of ₹1,210 per passenger as per the directive of the Supreme Court.
Shramik Specials were operated to Barauni, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Katihar, Saharsa, New Cooch Behar, New Jalpaiguri, Howrah, Nergundi, Malda Town, Berhampore Court and Guwahati.
Students, patients and other persons stranded in the State also made use of the facility.
“Operations of the Shramik Specials were smooth and Railways extended all support to the State government to enable return of migrant labourers to the north and north-eastern States. Even in short notice of two hours, rakes were arranged by us,” Divisional Railway Manager, Thiruvananthapuram, Shirish Kumar Sinha told The Hindu.
Railways accommodated the passengers brought and facilitated by the State government. Arrangements for food and water were made by the State at the boarding point and food en route was made available through the IRCTC kitchens.
A dedicated team of front-line staff, including Railway Protection Force, Ticket Checking Staff and Supervisors, were deployed at railway stations to assist the passengers, including for their thermal screening.
Shramik Specials ran non-stop and each accommodated only 1,140 travellers in 24 coaches as social-distancing norms had to be followed.
It was estimated that 3.6 lakh migrant labourers hailing mainly from West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam were in the State.