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2,600 Shramik trains in next 10 days

 NEW DELHI, May 23 - The Railways has drawn up a schedule to operate 2,600 Shramik Special trains over the next 10 days across the country to ferry around 36 lakh migrant workers, stranded due to the COVID-19 lockdown, to their home States, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said on Saturday.

He said that the railways has run 2,600 Shramik Special trains in the last 23 days carrying around 36 lakh stranded migrants.

He used graphics to show how railways had increased the number of trains from four on May 1, when the operations started, to 279 on May 20.

“We have operated 260 Shramik Special trains every day on an average for the last four days, carrying three lakh passengers daily. In the next 10 days, 2,600 Shramik Special trains will carry 36 lakh migrants. We can also run trains within States, around 10-12 lakh can travel on them,” Yadav said.

To a question on fares of the special trains to be operated from June 1, he said the railways is charging pre-lockdown normal fares only. He reiterated that 85 per cent of the expense of Shramik Special trains is being borne by the Centre and the States are only paying 15 per cent in the form of fares.

“Unreserved journey has been stopped for now in the interest of social distancing. Trains will be full only as per designated capacity,” Yadav said. “It’s a tough situation for everyone in the world. Attempt is to move to normalcy gradually. We have studied patterns of demand on routes and trains have been introduced based on that,” he said.

He assured migrant workers that the railways will continue to operate the Shramik Special trains till the time States require them.

He also said around 5,000 beds in 17 dedicated hospitals and 33 isolated hospital blocks have been earmarked for COVID-19 care. Yadav further said isolation coaches meant for coronavirus-infected people are yet to be deployed. – PTI

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