Most trains carrying migrants from Pune and Mumbai to their home states in north India have been delayed by 24-36 hours due to the bunching of many Shramik Special trains in Madhya Pradesh.
Shramik Specials, which departed for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar on Thursday and should have arrived there within a day, have still not reached their destinations.
Railway officials said there is extensive ‘bunching’ of trains heading to northern states from Maharashtra and other south Indian states on the Bhusawal-Khandwa-Itarsi-Jabalpur-Manikpur stretch, resulting in congestion.
Bunching occurs when two or more trains on the same route, which were scheduled to be evenly spaced, instead run in the same place at the same time, because at least one of the vehicles is unable to keep to its schedule.
Bhim Mahato, a passenger on the Pune-Gorakhpur Shramik Special, which departed from Pune Railway Station on Thursday at 10 pm, said he had reached Bhopal by Saturday morning, where the train halted for a couple of hours.
“I want to go to Hatia in Jharkhand. But since there weren’t many Shramik Special trains to Jharkhand, I took the one to Gorakhpur. From there, I plan to board a truck or bus to Hatia, which is 550 km further away. I was hoping the journey would last three days. But now, I don’t know if I will reach Gorakhpur by tomorrow,” said Mahato, who worked as a driver in Baramati before leaving his job due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Officials in the Central Railway said the delay was outside their control as the trains left Pune and Mumbai on time.
Pankaj Kumar Singh, chief public relations officer, North Eastern Railway headquartered at Gorakhpur, said the Gorakhpur Station does not have any limitation on hosting trains and was ably handling traffic.
“Every day, we get at least 20 Shramik Special trains and 25-30,000 passengers. Three platforms, which are linked to entry-exit points, are being used to host trains and facilitate screening of migrants. We don’t have any problem in receiving trains,” said Singh.
Since May 4, Gorakhpur has received more than 150 trains and 1.75 to 2 lakh passengers, he added. Nearby stations in the same zone, Basti, Gonda and Deoria, have also received 135 trains since May 4.
Harsha Shah of the Railway Pravasi Group said migrants in these trains were stranded at various stations in Madhya Pradesh for 10-12 hours due to congestion on the tracks. “This also led to the Railways diverting trains via Odisha to avoid the congested stretch. The stranded trains may reach Gorakhpur, Lucknow and other destinations in Uttar Pradesh by tomorrow,” said Shah.
Meanwhile, Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said that the West Bengal government has requested the Maharashtra government not to send any Shramik Special train until May 26 due to Cyclone Amphan. “This is the reason some of the scheduled trains to West Bengal had to be cancelled,” said Mhaisekar.
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