Did Shramik train lose it’s way?

Since 23 May, the whole of the social media has been in a hustle with the reports of a Shramik Special train. According to the reports around 40 trains of the above mentioned Shramik Special trains are being said to be lost. The train was supposed to go from Mumbai via Madhya Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh and instead decided to go to Rourkela in Odisha. The train was set off to Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh from Vasai Road, Maharashtra on 21 May. The train reached at the Rourkela station in Odisha on the 23 May. The passengers were totally unaware of the situation. Sons of the many retired railway employees also chimed in with second- hand outrage on their father’s behalf. Things were so much better before. The whole social media was ablaze from the 23 May.

Is the rerouting of trains common?

No, the rerouting of the trains is extremely rare. Checks in the system ensure misrouting is quickly detected and rectified. Trains usually do not travel a thousand kilometres on the wrong route before someone finds out. If 40 trains went, were expected and missing, someone would notice the abnormality.

Moreover, it was not possible for a driver to lose his/her way. As the same driver does not handle the train from Mumbai to Gorakhpur. Drivers change every few hours at designated crew change points. They are trained individuals who work under tough conditions and have serious responsibilities. The driver has no rights to decide which route the train must follow. They are instructed by the superior authorities. They are not even allowed to switch tracks without proper instructions.

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Central Railway’s statement.

The Indian Railways are running Shramik trains for stranded migrants, workers, tourists and students in various parts of the country on request of the state governments. It started on the 1 of May 2020, keeping in mind the Covid-19 situation and for helping the people reach their homes during this pandemic. On request of the Maharashtra government, Shramik Special trains have been running from various station of Mumbai, Pune, Bhusawal, Nagpur and Solapur divisions of Central Railway, Nanded division of Central Railway, Mumbai Central Division of Western Railway and also from Konkan Railway. Railways have run 520 Shramik special trains carrying 7,32,166 migrant workers till 25 May. The demands for Shramik special trains are given by State Government with the list of the travellers. The railways have also been operating around 200 to 400 Shramik specials.

Reality Check.

On 22 May, many news channels pointed out that the Indian railways were facing the problems of serious congestion caused by hundreds of trains heading to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and the trains were being uphold for hours in a severe traffic congestion.

Minister of State for railways, Suresh Angadi told media, that he was already working on the solution with the Railway Board, NCR officials mentioned that they were swamped with trains. Amidst the Covid-19 outbreak the guidelines meant it took much longer to get passengers to disembark safely. Besides, some 80 percentage of all Shramik special trains were terminating in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. The train was expected to run on Kalyan Bhusaval- Itarsi- Jabalpur- Manikpur route, but despite following the usual route, the train rerouted and diverted its route via Bilaspur- Jharsuguda- Rourkela- Asansol route. The reason is said to be because of the heavy traffic congestion on the existing routes.

The shortest route was jammed and the Railways were left with the only solution of rerouting the train via alternative routes. So that, the trains would keep moving and do not create much panic among the passengers. Rerouting the train was considered a better option than forcing trains to be stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours. Small stations do not provide food and water to the trainloads of passengers, which was yet another hurdle.

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