A day after several state governments demanded special non-stop trains to transport stranded migrant workers to their respective states, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday agreed to their demand and allowed use of trains to ferry people stranded due to lockdown.  

As per MHA guidelines, special trains will run from point to point on request of both state governments as per protocols for sending and receiving stranded persons, Indian Railways said.

It has been decided to run “Shramik Special” trains from International Workers’ Day on May 1, Railways said. A total of six ‘Shramik’ trains will ferry the migrant workers– Lingampally to Hatia, Nasik to Lucknow, Aluva to Bhub, Nasik to Bhopal, Jaipur to Patna and Kota to Hatia.

“These special trains will be run from point to point on the request of both the 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 a smooth operation of these ‘Shramik Specials’,” the national transporter said.

According to the guidelines issued by the railways, the passengers of these trains will have to be screened at the boarding points by the states sending them and only those found asymptomatic of COVID-19 will be allowed to travel.

“Sending state governments will have to bring these persons in batches that can be accommodated in the train to the designated railway station in sanitised buses, following social-distancing norms and other precautions. It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear a face cover. Meals and drinking water would be provided to the passengers by the sending states at the originating stations.

“Railways will endeavour to ensure social-distancing norms and hygiene with the cooperation of passengers. On longer routes, the railways will provide a meal during the journey,” the national transporter said.

On arrival at the destination, the passengers will be received by the state government, which will make all arrangements for their screening, quarantine, if necessary, and further travel from the railway station, it added.

Earlier today, the Indian Railways ran a special train to ferry 1,200 stranded migrants from Lingampally in Telangana to Hatia in Jharkhand, a first since the lockdown began.

Another special train from Kerala carrying 1,200 migrant workers to Bhubaneswar in Odisha is scheduled to leave from the Aluva railway station on Friday evening, state Minister V S Sunil Kumar said.

The special train that earlier left from Telangana at 4.50 am Friday carried 1,200 stranded migrant workers, said RPF DG Arun Kumar said.

It’s the only train to be deployed so far, he added.

The train usually seats 72 people in a compartment. However, keeping in mind the social distancing norms, it accomodated only 54 people in each compartment.

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