Scores of Special Train Passengers, who arrived New Delhi Railway Station yesterday (Wednesday, 13th May 2020) on the first batch of trains since the partial resumption of railway services amid a lockdown, were left stranded on the roads outside the railway station with no transport available for onward journeys.
Special trains from Ahmedabad, Patna and Mumbai reached the New Delhi Railway Station before 9 am yesterday. Though the train journey remained smooth for most of the passengers, their excitement to reach home disappeared as they stepped out of the station premises. There was no bus, cab or any other transport option available for onward journeys.
Many passengers carrying heavy luggage stood clueless outside the railway station, while some tried to convince local cab drivers to take them home in various states.
“We can give you Rs 6,000 maximum if you take us to Roorkee (a distance of about 200 km),” a man said to a driver who reached the station to pick up a family which had already booked his taxi. Another man was seen asking a rickshaw-puller to take to take him to Anand Vihar.
Vishnu, 24, who boarded a train from Sabarmati along with his wife and three-year-old boy, said he gave Rs 1,800 to a tempo driver to reach the Ahmedabad station. “My brother-in-law booked the ticket for us for Rs 1,750. We have to go to Ravi Nagar in West Delhi, but the family doesn’t have a vehicle at home, he said.
Ratnakar, a resident of Uttam Nagar, who had gone to his village in Bihar’s Begusarai district, said he had no clue about the non-availability of public transport in Delhi. His father, who is in his 60s, said if they start walking, they would reach home by evening.
Why have they started running trains when there is no bus or metro available? We had no clue that there will be no public transport whatsoever in Delhi, he said.
Aviral Mathur, who reached here on the first train from Ahmedabad, said the Delhi government should have at least run a few buses for passengers travelling on special trains. “A private taxi seems highly unlikely and even if you get one, they have been charging exorbitantly, he added.
Md. Taufiq Alam, 26, who arrived from Mumbai, asked it is disappointing that the Centre or the Delhi government did not think about those who have to travel to their hometown from Delhi.
“An advisory could have been issued informing people that no transport will be available from Delhi, Alam said, as he put his heavy bag down on the road.
A few women were seen asking policemen to help them get water for their children. There is no arrangement of water, food or toilet for people who are still to cover hundreds of kilometers before they reach their home, Siraj Ali, a carpenter who returned from Mumbai, said.
Ali and his two friends are already discussing their options if they fail to get an auto-rickshaw or some ‘jugaad’ to reach home in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly. “We have been without work for two months. Our employer did not pay us. We asked our friends and families to transfer some money into our bank accounts so that we could book train tickets, he said.
We did not know that there will be no bus from Delhi. Now, the footpath will be our home till bus or train service for Bareilly resumes, Ali said.
A group of 14 men who worked at a hotel in Jaipur were among those scrambling for a transport. Ashok Tamta, 22, from Khatima in Uttarakhand said they have no clue as to how they will reach their home.
Tamta, who was to get married on April 8, said the Jaipur hotel where he worked closed leaving them jobless. “We had no option but to return to our places. We did not think once when the train services resumed, booked a ticked and set out on our journeys,” he said.
His friend and co-worker Deepak Kumar from Pithoragarh said they will sleep on the roads and walk to their home state if they don’t get any transport. A group of three men from Chennai, who worked in Jaipur, were also among those who were waiting outside the station till their train to hometown reach the station at 4 pm.
Furkaan, 26, said there was no option but to wait outside on the road. The only relief is that the weather is cloudy. His friend Gilani, 26, said they had dinner last night and that there was no food left with them.
“It’s going to be hard… but what’s assuring is that we will reach our home,” he said.