Only 1.85% of the total Shramik Special trains being run were diverted between May 20 and May 24 due to route congestion, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said on Friday adding that 71 trains had been diverted.
The national carrier till Friday has operated 3,840 Shramik Specials trains ferrying 52 lakh passengers to their home states.
“Out of 3,840 trains, 71 were diverted to deal with network congestion only between May 20 and May 24, as the railways had to meet the demand of the respective states, nearly 90% of the trains were going to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” Yadav said.
Among the destination-states for which the trains were diverted were Bihar (51), Uttar Pradesh (16), Jharkhand (2), Assam and Manipur (1 each).
Among the originating-states, for which trains were diverted were Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan.
He also added that it is not possible for trains to get “lost”. The clarification came amid criticism over delays and diversions of Shramik trains.
The railways had come under criticism over the delay and diversion of several Shramik Trains in the last week. A Gorakhpur-bound Shramik Special train from Maharashtra ended up in Rourkela, Odisha adding two days and five states to the original journey, leaving its passengers clueless.
With several Shramik Special trains bound for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar being delayed and diverted over the past two days, the ministry of railways on Sunday said the convergence of trains to these destinations have caused congestion in the network adding that the total number of trains to the region has increased.
Most of the destinations in UP are around Lucknow-Gorakhpur sector and in Bihar around Patna. Of 565 trains running since yesterday, 266 were going to Bihar and 172 to Uttar Pradesh, the ministry had said.
“Only four trains took more than three days to reach the destination states in the north eastern part of the country,” Yadav clarified adding that allegations of trains taking nearly nine days to reach were incorrect.
Yadav said there was also uncertainty in demand that led to the congestion. “As per railway capacity, it was not a 24-hour steady flow. The originations of Shramik Special trains took place after completing all the local protocols by the state mostly in post noon 16-24 shift. Thus, this left one third route capacity per day to handle these trains,” he said.
“On arrival, all passengers were registered and screened by state governments, which limited the capacity of terminals to handle trains. As against 20 minutes taken in normal trains, it took one to three hours in releasing the train at terminals,” he added.
Demand for Shramik Special trains, has lately been diminishing he said.
“It appears that demand for these trains is declining from the originating state. 137 trains were flagged yesterday (Thursday) and 172 the day before (Wednesday). Demand for trains has been going down in the last two days,” Yadav said.
Nearly 1,524 Shramik Specials operated in the last one week from May 22 till May 28 ferrying over 20 lakh passengers. On May 20, as many as 279 trains operated in a single day.
As of last week, originating states had indicated a demand of 923 trains for migrants, which had come down to 450 trains as of Thursday, Yadav said.
“Railways have accommodated almost all requests received from the sending states and we are ready to meet all demand of Shramik movements. We will run Shramik Trains for as long as they are needed. Each and every migrant will be transported,” he said.