Surge in east-bound migrant special trains leading to network congestion, diversions: Railways

With a surge in demand for migrant special trains to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Railways is struggling to maintain the operating schedule of its Shramik Special trains leading to major diversions — and complaints from travelling workers.
The Railways has operated over 2,810 Shramik Special trains since May 1, carrying over 37 lakh passengers, 80 per cent of whom were bound for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, leading to major congestion on the routes, the Railways said.
While 1,301 of these trains were bound for Uttar Pradesh, 973 terminated in Bihar.
“We are travelling in Shramik train from MAS(Chennai Central Railway station) to Udhampur…and literally with our empty stomach. We had been told that we will be given food in Itrasi, but to our fate and administration, we got nothing,” tweeted Sajid Nabi tagging the railway minister.
Within an hour, he tweeted again, saying that women and children have been without food for 26 hours.
Despite his tweets, he had failed to get food at Itarsi and Bhopal and was expecting it at Jhansi.
This train left Chennai on May 23 at 5:30 pm and was yet to reach its destination.
Another train from Tamil Nadu to Bihar took 68 hours to reach Samastipur and workers and students on board claimed that they had not received food or water from the Railways.
“Most of the destinations in Uttar Pradesh are around the Lucknow-Gorakhpur sector. In Bihar, it’s around Patna. Of 565 trains that began their journeys yesterday, 266 were going to Bihar and 172 to Uttar Pradesh.
Convergence of trains to these destinations caused congestion on the network. Further, increased time taken in de-boarding of passengers due to various health and social distancing protocols at stations is leading to congestion at terminals which further affects network congestion,” the Railways said in a statement.
The statement came after reports that a migrant special train, which was to reach Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, arrived in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.
On Saturday, a Shramik Special train from Mumbai, which was to reach Gorakhpur on Friday evening after a 24-hour journey, was rerouted via Odisha, adding two days and five states to the original journey.
Officials said the routes were so congested that it was difficult to operate trains on them and the routes in eastern Uttar Pradesh like Goraphpur-Gonda-Lucknow were completely saturated.
“To ease the congestion, a few trains were diverted via Mathura, Jharsuguda. Further, route rationalisation order has been issued to avoid congestion on routes with heavy traffic. Round the clock monitoring at Railway Board level, zonal railway level and divisional level is being done to ensure that trains are not delayed.
“The train running staff have also been sensitised to ensure punctual running of Shramik Special trains. With these efforts, the congestion position has eased considerably and the mobility of trains has drastically improved,” the Railways said.
To add to the misery of migrant labourers due to the network congestion, trains got delayed affecting the meal distribution schedule, leading to thousands of passengers going hungry and thirsty.
There were reports from many railway stations about protests by passengers over meals not being provided.
“The IRCTC and the Railways have mobilized resources to ensure regular supply of meals and water to the Shramik trains and minimise inconvenience to the passengers,the Railways said.