New Delhi: Indian Railways has pushed its train operations to 70 per cent of pre-Covid level amid reports of a rush of migrant workers to their hometowns from big cities. The Railways further plans to press into service 133 additional trains — 88 summer specials and 45 festival specials — over the next two weeks, said a PTI report citing official data.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Railways had approved 9,622 special trains, including weekly ones, which translated into an average of 7,745 trains daily. The pre-COVID average was 11,283 trains.

The national transporter is reportedly running 5,387 suburban trains (92 per cent of pre Covid times) with the maximum services operating in the Central Railway zone under which Mumbai and Pune come. Further, the report said that about 82 per cent of mail express and 25 per cent of local trains are back on track.

Additional trains are also being run in high-demand regions like Gorakhpur, Patna, Darbhanga, Varanasi, Guwahati, Barauni, Prayagraj, Bokaro, Ranchi, and Lucknow to meet the rush of migrant workers.

With most states imposing heavy restrictions and shutdown of all works save essential services due to the huge surge in coronavirus cases, the rush of migrant workers leaving for their hometown has been reported across the country.

Last year, when a nationwide lockdown was announced, the Railways had operated 4,621 ‘Shramik Special’ trains and ferried 63.1 lakh migrant workers home.

The maximum number of such workers were from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, two of the country’s most populous states, followed by Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal.

The Railways last week also clarified that it had no plans to curtail its services and will continue to put trains in service according to demand. 

Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday stressed ramping up tests of samples and intensification of vaccination drive to deal with challenges posed by the second wave of the deadly disease. 

Kumar further added that testing facilities have been arranged at all the Railway stations in Bihar to screen natives returning home from different parts of the country.

Trains from coronavirus-hit Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi are arriving in Patna daily carrying a large number of migrant workers returning home due to joblessness and fearing the danger of lockdown. 

(With Agency Inputs)

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