Railway Runs Its First Special Train To Ferry Stranded Migrants From Telangana To Jharkhand 
Trains sits idle at the New Delhi Junction railway station during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in New Delhi, India. (Photographer. T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Railway Runs Its First Special Train To Ferry Stranded Migrants From Telangana To Jharkhand 

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Railways on Friday ran its first special train to ferry 1,200 stranded migrants from Lingampally in Telangana to Hatia in Jharkhand, since its services were suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown, RPF Director General Arun Kumar said.

Thousands of migrants were stranded in places across the country since the lockdown was enforced on March 25, many even attempting to walk home. On Wednesday, the ministry of home affairs allowed states to ferry their migrants back in buses, even as many state chief ministers requested that special trains be allowed to run for the movement of migrants.

"Today morning a one-off special train was run from Lingampalli to Hatia on request of the state government of Telangana and as per the directions of ministry of railways. All necessary precautions such as prior screening of passengers, maintaining social distancing at station and in the train were followed," railways said in a statement on Friday.

A spokesperson for the South Central Railway which is running the train service said that all passengers were thermal screened at the station, masks were mandatory and food has been provided on board as the train will have no halts. For social distancing measures, it has allowed only 54 passengers per coach which has a capacity of 72. In coupes, six passengers have been allowed instead of eight, the spokesperson said.

The 24 coach train started at 4:50 a.m. and will reach Hatia at 11:00 p.m. tonight. The migrants on board are expected to be taken to quarantine facilities.

In Delhi, Railways clarified that this service was a "one-off special train" and any further trains would be planned only on direction of the Railways Ministry and on request of state governments of both the origin and destination.

States like Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Telangana have already made requests. Sources said that a list of special trains has been prepared by the Railways on the request of chief ministers, these trains will be run consistently starting Friday to ferry migrant workers back to their home states.

Resumption of normal services, however, will not take place anytime soon, officials said.

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