The Indian Railways witnessed over double footfall in last one month despite lockdown across the country amid the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, officials said.
Addressing a press conference here, Railway Board Chairman and CEO Suneet Sharma said, “There used to be five lakh daily reserved passengers around a month ago, which has now increased to 13 lakh per day.”
He said that increase in demand is expected to remain for the next two months.
“Depending on the position of the waiting list, we have been trying to meet the demand by operating clone trains. There are 26 clone trains operating right now. We also getting indications that we should anticipate more passenger demand,” the Chairman said.
He also said that the national transporter is increasing the number of trains as the lockdowns are being eased across the country.
According to Railway Ministry, the national transporter is operating 889 Special Mail Express trains, 479 passenger trains and 26 clone trains of highly-patronised trains. The ministry also said the railways is operating 2,891 suburban services.
Meanwhile, Sharma also contested the media report that 8,733 people died on railway tracks in 2020, saying these are purely deaths by trespassing and not railway accidents.
Listing several measures taken by the railways in the past two years to prevent such fatalities, the Chairman said that over the last two years, 448 foot over bridges have been constructed by the railways, taking the total number of such bridges in the rail network to 4,087. Similarly, 7,874 road over bridges have been constructed in the last seven years with 168 in the last fiscal and 951 in 2020-21.
He also said that all 20,375 manned level crossing gates on the broad gauge network have been eliminated.
“The deaths that are being mentioned are purely deaths by trespassing and not railway accidents. It has nothing to do with the railways,” he said.
Over 8,700 people were mowed down on railway tracks in 2020 even though passenger train services were severely curtailed due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, with officials saying many of the victims were migrant workers, a RTI reply filed by Madhya Pradesh-based activist Chandra Sekhar Gaur had revealed.
Asked about the convenience fee at newly-developed railway stations, Sharma said that levying such fees was on the table for discussion but a decision is yet to be taken. The possibility of railways levying such charges had come under fire from sections of the public, he said.