Indian Railways has restored its train services to 70 per cent of the pre-Covid-19 pandemic level amid reports of a rush of migrant workers from big cities to their hometowns and a return of stricter curbs to prevent Covid-19 from spreading. As per official data, the national transporter further plans to press into service 133 additional trains over the next two weeks including 88 summer special trains and 45 festival special trains. As of Wednesday, 9,622 special trains have been approved by Indian Railways, including weekly trains, which translated into an average of 7,745 number of trains daily. The average during pre-covid times was 11,283 trains, according to a PTI report.
Indian Railways is running as many as 5,387 suburban/local trains (92 per cent of pre-pandemic times) with the maximum suburban train services operating in Central Railways under which Pune and Mumbai come. According to Indian Railways, 82 per cent of mail express trains and 25 per cent local trains are back on rail track. Besides additional train services are also being operated in high demand regions like Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Darbhanga, Patna, Varanasi, Barauni, Guwahati, Prayagraj, Bokaro, and Ranchi. With heavy restrictions being imposed by most states along with shutdown of all works save essential services due to the huge surge in Covid-19 cases, the rush of migrants leaving for their hometown has been reported across the nation.
When a nationwide lockdown was announced by the government last year, Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways had run 4,621 Shramik Special trains and ferried a total of 63.1 lakh migrant workers home. According to the report, the maximum number of such workers were from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two of India’s most populous states, followed by the states of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. Last week, the national transporter had also clarified that it had no plans to curtail train services and it will continue to put trains in operation as per the demand.