Not diversion, 'rationalisation' of routes: Railways

Not diversion, but 'rationalisation' of routes, says Indian Railways as it explains unusual routes of trains

Migrants, maintaining social distancing, stand in a queue after deboarding 'Shramik Special' train at Danapur station to reach their native places, during the nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Patna, Saturday, May 23, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Even as complaints of lack of food and water and inordinate delays in Shramik Special trains pour in on social media, the railways on Tuesday said no trains are being diverted now and all trains which originated during the last three days are running on their "pre-scheduled rationalised routes".

Officials explained that while there are several routes that a train can take to reach a particular destination and while the rationalised route may not be the "normal route", once it is notified it is not a diversion.

The railways has said that network congestion is the main reason why the trains have taken "unusual" routes, but they maintained that it is not something unheard of even during normal times.

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"No diversions now. All trains originated during last three days are running on their pre-scheduled rationalised routes," a railway spokesperson said.

A Shramik Special train which started its journey from Mumbai for Gorakhpur on May 21 was to take the Kalyan-Jalgoan-Bhusaval-Khandwa-Itarsi-Jabalpur-Manikpur route but instead it was diverted to Gorakhpur via Bilaspur (SECR), Jharsuguda, Rourkela, Adra, Asansol (ER) due to heavy traffic congestion on existing routes.

Passengers took to social media to allege that they were not informed about the change in timings and thus were stranded without food and water.

The passengers also alleged that the railways did not inform them about the change in the route and the duration of their travel.

"We boarded the Shramik Special train on May 21 to go back to Gorakhpur. However, despite 23 hours of journey we are still in Maharashtra. We don't have anything to eat and there is no water in the train. And why the train is going towards Nagpur from Bhusawal," a passenger tweeted.

These "unusual" routes, the officers said, were due to the fact that 80 per cent of the Shramik Special trains were running towards two states -- Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

While in a press statement on Tuesday the railways said that so far it has distributed over a crore water bottles and 74 lakh free meals, many passengers tweeted that they were starving on board due to longer than anticipated run time of the trains.

To deal with this issue, the railways in an order on May 22 also empowered the general managers of each zone to spend upto Rs 1 lakh on each Shramik Special train to arrange meals for the workers.

The officials on the field, however, said that it has been a difficult task to meet the meal demands of these trains which are unscheduled and not running on timetable.

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