New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the controversy over the fares of Shamrik special trains, the Ministry of Railways said that 85 per cent of the expenditure of these special trains is being borne by the Centre while the states are paying 15 per cent in form of fares.

Addressing a press conference with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Railways said that 2,600 Shramik Special trains completed journey since May 1, taking over 35 lakh passengers to their destination.

Assuring that all migrants will reach their destination “as quickly as possible”, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav further said that more than 260 Shramik special trains are operating every day, carrying three lakh passengers daily.    

“Shramik Special Trains were started on May 1. Free meals and drinking water being provided to all the passengers. Social distancing and hygiene protocols being followed in trains and stations,” Yadav said, as reported by news agency ANI.

The clarification from the Railways comes at a time when the opposition has continuously questioned the central government over the expenditure of the Shramik Special trains. 

Yadav also said that 80 per cent of the train journeys have been undertaken by the migrant labourers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

“Day-wise breakup of Shramik Special trains has been provided with details of number of passengers they have carried. Additionally, Railway Ministry has started special passenger trains since 12 May to carry passengers from Delhi to 15 major cities,” ANI quoted Yadav as saying.

In an effort towards returning to normalcy, the Indian Railways will also run 200 Mail Express trains from June 1, said Yadav while adding that uninterrupted freight movement operations have ensured delivery of 9.7 million tonnes of food grain from April 1 to May 22.

Yadav, however, said that “asymptomatic” passengers with only confirmed tickets will be allowed to board the trains. He also said that 17 railway hospitals have been turned into coronavirus care hospitals.

“We had converted 5,000 coaches into COVID care centres, with 80,000 beds. Since some of these were not being used right now, we used 50 per cent of these coaches for Shramik special trains. If needed, they will be used again for COVID care,” ANI quoted Yadav as saying. 

The Indian Railways had suspended all passenger train services on March 25, after the government imposed the coronavirus lockdown in the country. However, it started special 'Shramik trains' to ferry the migrant workers, who are left stranded, to reach to their native villages.

Later, the Railways said that it will gradually restart passenger train operations from May 12, initially with 15 pairs of trains. Then on May 19, it announced that it will run 200 more passenger trains from June 1 and the online bookings for these trains will start soon.  

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma