Indian Railways has run 4450 of Shramik Special trains for migrant workers

The average fare on Shramik Special trains meant for migrant workers and their families was Rs 600, railway board chairman VK Yadav said Monday adding that the national carrier ferried nearly 6 million migrants indicating it has generated a revenue of around Rs 360 crore from this.

Indian Railways has run 4450 of these special trains for migrant workers.

The Indian railways recovered only 15% of the total cost of operating the Shramik trains, Yadav said at a virtual press conference. “The fare was charged as per the normal sleeper fare of a mail express train,” he said.

A spokesperson for the railway ministry clarified that the national carrier spent around Rs 3,400 per person on operating the trains.

“Only a few migrants are left now as most have reached their home. We will continue to coordinate with state governments to send the remaining migrants back. We asked state governments to send us their demand of remaining trains on June 3 and we received a demand for 171 Shramik Special trains from various states…We ended up running 222 Shramik Special trains till June 14. After the Supreme Court’s order we have again sought details from the state governments to meet the additional demand,” Yadav said.

As of now, a total 63 more Shramik Special Trains have been demanded by various states. Kerala, Andhara Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir have sought the trains to ferry remaining migrants, according to the railway ministry.

Speaking on the deployment of so-called Covid coaches , Yadav said the Covid isolation coaches are meant to be used when the health infrastructure of a state gets exhausted due to the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases.

Suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients will be kept in separate Covid Coaches wherever they are allocated as per the guidelines issued by the health ministry, he added

The Railways, has so far received a demand for coaches from Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and the Delhi government. The rest of the deployment will be done as and when states demand them, he added.

The isolation coaches will be under the complete care of the chief medical officer of the respective state government.

The Railway Board chairman said it is more suitable to use non-AC coaches for isolation purposes of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients. For cooling, wherever required the Railways will provide roof insulation in the coaches, he added.

For the national capital Delhi, at least 50 coaches with around 800 beds have already been stationed at Shakur Basti railway station. “We have earmarked 500 coaches for Delhi and we are jointly working with the Delhi government to finalise locations. A joint team is working on it. The main objective is that the Indian goverment and the state government should work as a team and see that we succeed in fighting the pandemic,”said Yadav.

Around 180 coaches are scheduled to be placed at Anand Vihar railway station and some other stations on Tuesday and five pairs of trains running to and from the station will be diverted to Old Delhi railway station, the Northern railways spokesperson said.

So far, no isolation coaches are in use in Delhi, officials said.

The demand for the special coaches has come nearly two months after they were prepared. A total of 5,231 coaches were modified to be used as Covid Care Centres.

In May, the government drafted a plan to deploy 5,231 railway coaches as isolation wards across 215 stations in 15 states considering the possibility of an increase in cases of Covid-19.

The railway board wrote to the various railway zones in May seeking to take back 60% of the Covid-19 coaches to be utilised as Shramik trains.