In the wake of demands by different state governments to run special trains to ferry people stuck in various states, Indian Railways said it will run special trains from Friday itself to move labourers, pilgrims, tourists and students stranded across the country.
Railways Executive Director (Media) R.D. Bajpai said in a statement that as per the guidelines issued by Ministry of Home Affairs, it was decided to run "Shramik Special" trains to return migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students, and others to their native states.
The senior officials of the Railways and Home Ministry had a meeting in Thursday to discuss the issue.
Special train for migrant labourers
The development comes on a day when the Railways ran its first special train in almost 40 days from Telangana to Jharkhand to transport 1,200 migrant labourers.
The non-stop train operated as a one-off service on Friday morning from Telangana to Hatia in Jharkhand. Sources confirmed that the train carrying 1,200 migrant workers from Telangana left from Lingampalli station at 5 am.
Speaking to a news agency, Railway Protection Force (RPF) Director General Arun Kumar said, "A non stop train from Telangana to Jharkhand started this morning with 1,200 migrants." He said the train will reach Hatia around 11 pm today night.
Lockdown suspends the trains services
The railways had suspended passenger, mail and express trains as the nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from March 24 midnight to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.
Bajpai said these special trains will be run from point to point on the request of both state governments concerned as per the standard protocols for sending and receiving such stranded persons.
"The railways and state governments shall appoint senior officials as nodal officers for coordination and smooth operation of these Shramik Special trains," the official said.
Elaborating, he said the passengers have to be screened by the states in which people were stuck and allow only those found asymptomatic to travel.
"The state governments concerned will have to bring these stranded persons in batches that can be accommodated in trains at designated railway stations by sanitized buses and following social distancing norms and other precautions.
"It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear a face mask. Meals and drinking water will be provided to the travellers by states concerned at the train's originating station," the official said.
He said that the Railways will endeavour to ensure social distancing norms and hygiene on board with the cooperation of passengers. "On longer routes, the Railways will provide a meal en route," he said.
Bajpai said that on arrival at the destination station, passengers will be received by officials of the respective state governments, who would also make all arrangements for their screening, quarantine if necessary and further travel from the railway station.
The national transporter has suspended regular services of passenger and express trains until further notice, running only freight and special parcel trains to ensure supply of essential items across the country.
Second train from Kerala to Bhubaneshwar
Another special train with more than 1,000 migrant workers from Kerala will leave on Friday (May 1) evening at 6 pm from Aluva to Bhubaneshwar. And, all migrants who will be brought to the station by the state government will be allowed to board.
The state government has reportedly made adequate arrangements for the testing and quarantine of the migrants returning to the state from the special train.