NEW DELHI: Railways have played an important role in evacuating stranded migrant laborers due to coronavirus lockdown. On Saturday, while addressing the media, Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Home Affairs informed about the future plans of Shramik trains for migrants,contribution of railways towards the health care infrastructure and the efforts taken by the government.

Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav said that an average of 260 ‘Shramik Special Trains’ was operated daily in the last four days carrying over 3 lakh passengers everyday.

Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary, MHA, said “more than 2,600 special trains have run till date, and at least 35 Lakh migrants have availed the benefits of these trains.” Out of these trains, 80% of the train journeys have been undertaken by the migrant laborers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar so far.

Vinod Yadav further said that on May 1, since Shramik Special trains were started, free food and drinking water are being provided to all the passengers. Social distancing & hygiene protocols being followed in trains & stations with zero negligence.

He said 17 railway hospitals have been turned into COVID-19 care hospitals. He also confirmed that the West Bengal Chief Secretary has asked him to stop the trains to WB due to Cyclone Amphan. “As soon as they give us a clearance, we’ll run the trains to West Bengal”.

2600 trains to operate in the next 10 days

The chairman of the Railway Board said that schedules of 2,600 trains have been fixed in the next 10 days. Of these, 36 lakh migrants will travel by special shramik trains. Railways have asked the states to state their needs. He said that in order to restore normalcy, 200 Mail Express trains will be run by the Ministry of Railways from June 1.

Briefing about Railways contribution towards health infrastructure Vinod Yadav said, Ministry of Railways has contributed immensely in the effort to domestically produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and sanitisers and produced 1.2 lakh Coveralls and 1.4 lakh litres sanitiser.

“We converted 5,000 coaches as covid-19 care centers, which had 80,000 beds. About 50% of these coaches have been used for shramik special trains. If needed, then the same can be used for Covid-19 care. ” he further added.