The South Central Railway (SCR) has pressed into service two more migrant special trains, one from Telangana and the other from Andhra Pradesh (A.P) early on Tuesday morning carrying 2,452 passengers towards Bihar and Maharashtra, respectively.
The first train started from Rayanapadu Station near Vijayawada in A.P. with 1,212 passengers at 3 am on Tuesday for Chandrapur in Maharastra.
The second train started from Ghatkesar Station on the outskirts of Hyderabad, and it carried up to 1,240 passengers in 22 coaches. It had already crossed Balharshah in Maharashtra when reports last came in after starting at about 3 a.m towards Khagaria in Bihar.
Both are non-stop trains with halts only for the railway personnel to change shifts on the way, and the second train is likely to have a 24-hour journey.
Senior railway officials informed that the governments of A.P. and Telangana have picked up the ticket costs even as there is confusion about who will be paying for the cost of transporting the migrant labour with different ministries coming out with varied versions nationwide.
Screened and seated
Telangana government officials had earlier brought the workers to the Ghatkesar station in about 50 buses where they were thermal screened, provided with food and drinking water, before being allowed into the coaches to accommodate 50 persons in each so as to maintain social distancing.
“The railways will take care of the food and water arrangements enroute. Our security personnel are providing necessary support, and the stations were barricaded to allow only those registered passengers in the list as provided by the State Governments onto the trains,” senior officials pleading anonymity explained. Face masks and hand sanitisers too have been made available.
Collecting ‘nominal’ fares
Apparently, it costs the railways about ₹15 lakh to run such non-AC trains and collecting the ‘nominal’ sleeper class fare with ₹ 50 extra will fetch about ₹ 5-15 lakh depending on the distance the special trains are travelling. For now, in this zone the State governments have been footing the bill and the Telangana government has already sought running of 40 special trains towards Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, etc.
SCR had earlier run the country’s first migrant special from Lingampally Station in the capital’s suburbs to Hatia in Jharkhand on May Day transporting about 1,225 passengers.