As per the plan, to ensure adequate social distancing, each non air-conditioned train will carry as many as 1,000 people per trip, which is nearly half the usual number.
Indian Railways to run special trains? While the Modi government has permitted movement of migrant workers in buses, several states across the country have demanded special train services. According to sources quoted in an IE report, the Railway Ministry has drafted a plan to run 400 special trains per day. However, this can be scaled up to 1,000 special trains, with a detailed protocol. Since there is still no indication that passenger trains will resume before 3 May 2020, the national transporter has reportedly carried out an internal exercise as well as communicated the plan to top levels in the government. As per the plan, to ensure adequate social distancing, each non air-conditioned train will carry as many as 1,000 people per trip, which is nearly half the usual number.
A senior government official was quoted in the report saying that following social distancing, each bus generally carries 25 people. The detailed protocol of Indian Railways also has a paragraph stating that states falling in the routes should permit the movement, controlled embarking, screening, etc., he said. By deciding on buses instead of train services, the number of people who can be transported has been strategically restricted by the government, the sources said. According to an official, it is not a viable transportation solution over long distances, but just to allow an option of relief for those who are stranded and want to go back to their home states.
Several states across the country including Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala have raised the demand for special train services. A few days ago, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had written to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, saying that 6.5 lakh migrant workers from various states across the nation were residing in camps in the state of Maharashtra, and had sought special arrangements to send them back to their home states.
While Bihar had not joined the chorus to bring back the stranded migrant workers, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar recently tweeted in support of the move. According to him, the decision is appropriate and is worth welcoming. He further stated that this was the state’s request and the Centre has taken a positive decision.