The Railways Friday denied that there was a rush among migrants to travel back home in light of the fresh spike in Covid cases and said there is no plan to curtail or stop train services.
A number of officials, including Railway Board chairman Suneet Sharma, Southern Railway manager John Thomas and the chief public relations officers (CPROs) of the Northern and Central Railways, reached out to the media to deny reports of an exodus of migrant workers via trains.
“There is no plan to curtail or stop train services. We will run as many services as required. There is no cause for alarm. We can run trains immediately on demand if there is any rush. This rush is normal during the summer season and we have already announced trains to clear the rush,” Chairman Railway Board Sharma said.
The Railways is currently running around 80 per cent of its pre-Covid long-distance trains and the occupancy is around 90 per cent. Currently, unreserved travel on long-distance mail/express trains is not allowed
April sees the start of the ensuing summer rush and any increase in number passengers could reflect that usual trend.
Railway Board additional member (commercial) Mukesh Nigam cited ticket booking data in Mumbai area saying the number of booked tickets is much less than what it usually is.
From March 29 to April 7, 168 trains ran with 90 per cent occupancy, carrying 12.3 lakh passengers in 901 trips. Around 8.5 lakh bookings have already been made for trains scheduled to run over the next 10 days – indicating 60 percent occupancy – for 929 trips.
“In the last 10 days we have added 94 pairs of new long-distance trains across Indian railways. There was a bus strike in Bengaluru so more trains had to be deployed there. Close watch is being kept on occupancy and booking patterns everywhere,” he said.
According to data, around 2 crore passengers travelled though the network every day in pre-Covid time, of which around two lakh were reserved passengers. In contrast, on Thursday, the figure stood at 44 lakh unreserved passengers booked across Indian railways, including suburban services.