With the aim of facilitating the safe return of thousands of stranded people to their homes, Indian Railways has launched Shramik Special service today (1 May) on the International Labour Day after obtaining permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
A total of six special trains are being pressed into service, and will run from Lingampally to Hatia, Aluva to Bhubaneswar, Nasik to Lucknow, Nasik to Bhopal, Jaipur to Patna and Kota to Hatia.
Revising its earlier guidelines, MHA has allowed special train service for the movement of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students, and other people, stranded at different places due to the lockdown.
These special trains will be run from point to point on the request of both the concerned state governments as per the standard protocols for sending and receiving stranded citizens.
The railways and state governments will appoint senior officials as nodal officers for coordination and smooth operation of these Shramik Specials.
According to the railways, passengers will be screened at the point of origin of the train service and only those found to be ‘clear of symptoms’ will be allowed to travel.
These people will have to be brought to the railway station in batches in sanitised buses following social distancing norms and other precautions. It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear a face mask.
The railways will attempt to enforce social distancing norms and hygiene with the cooperation of passengers.
Detailed guidelines are being worked out for the sale of tickets and for social distancing and other safety measures to be observed at stations, platforms and inside trains, according to a railway official.
The passengers have to be screened by the states sending them, and only those found without symptoms of Covid-19 would be allowed to travel.
State governments will have to bring these people in batches that can be accommodated in the train to the designated stations in sanitised buses following social distancing norms and other precautions.
It will be mandatory for every passenger to wear a face mask. Meals and drinking water would be provided to the passengers by the states at the point of origin.
We will try to ensure social distancing norms and hygiene with the cooperation of passengers, the official said.
On longer routes, the railways will provide a meal during the journey.
On arrival at the destination, passengers will be received by the state government officials, who would make all arrangements for their screening, quarantine if necessary, and further travel from the station.
The railways has said that during this time of crisis all officers and staff are committed to serve fellow Indians and seeks everyone’s support and cooperation.
Since there are many students stranded at Kota in Rajasthan, two special trains are being pressed into service for Ranchi and Dhanbad.
Students have to carry their ID cards. Parents are allowed if accompanied by students. District magistrates have to coordinate the whole effort, and seats will be allocated on first-cum-first-serve basis.
All coaches are marked on the basis of destination, for example, on the Kota to Ranchi train, coaches are earmarked as Lohardaga, Gumla, Ramgarh, Palamu and likewise, so that passengers can occupy the coaches accordingly.
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