Indian Railways Earns Rs 429 Crores through Shramik Special Trains

If the Indian Railways can earn revenue worth 429 crores in the time of crisis i.e the COVID 19 pandemic, then why doesRailways ministry claims that Railways are going in losses and need to be privatised to provide better services to the public?

Shramik Special Trains

An RTI query by activist Ajay Bose has revealed that Indian Railways earned Rs 428 Crore till Juner 29th ‘Shramik Special Trains’ during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. Special trains were run to transport migrant workers across the country from May 1st, 2020.

Indian Railways also earned an additional revenue of 1 Crore in the month of July talking the revenue earned through the Shramik Special Trains to Rs 429 Crores.

According to the estimates, 63 lakh migrants took the Shramik Special Trains to reach their homes.

The Railways had operated a total of 4615 ‘Shramik Special Trains’ from 1st May to 9th of July out of which 4109, 493, and 13 trains ran in the month of May, June, and July respectively.

The decision to start trains was taken after thousands of migrants took to walking, cycling, and other means to reach home when the nation-wide lockdown was imposed. The last of Shramik Special Train ran on July 9th.

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A substantial amount of this revenue was paid up by the states from where the trains originated as per the Supreme Court orders. On 28th May, SC directed the states that no fares to be charged for migrants. However, on multiple instances and in multiple places, the administration – local and state compelled that the migrants bear these costs.
According to a report by Hindustan Times Indian Railways received the highest revenue from Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu with Rs 102 crore, Rs 85 crore, and Rs 34 crore respectively towards the fare.
During the lockdown period, the narrative that the Indian Railways had to incur losses due to the operations of Shramik Special Trains was widely propagated. The RTI inquiry has shown hat instead Railways have profited off this exercise.
A migrant has a right to move back to their homes especially in times when there is a prevalent loss of lives and livelihoods of workers especially on the margins. It is the government´s duty to provide them with transportation.
After two months of silence and repeated criticism against the inaction of the Supreme Court to address one of the biggest humanitarian crisis, the  Supreme Court had ordered on 28th May that migrants must not be charged for their journey and had to be provided food and water. But by that time most of the migrants had already left for their homes with much suffering and loss of lives.
At the beginning of July, the Ministry of Railways announced that it has taken the first step towards privatisation of passenger train services. As part of its proposal, at least 151 modern trains or rakes will be introduced and 109 pairs of routes will be planned out for private train operations.
If the Indian Railways can earn revenue worth Rs. 429 crores in the time of crisis i.e the COVID 19 pandemic, then why does Railways ministry claims that Railways are going in losses and need to be privatised to provide better services to the public?

Read About:Corona Crisis & the Workers’ Movement- The labour report during the lockdown

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