All 342 passengers, who arrived in Nagpur by three trains on the first day after operations started, were stamped to be home quarantine by the Central Railway on Wednesday (13th May 2020). Among the passengers, 90% were students from coaching classes who were stuck in Delhi for preparation of UPSC exams and employees working in private sector in Gurgaon and Delhi.
The 3 trains that arrived at station included Delhi-Bilaspur, Delhi-Bengalaru and Bengalaru-Delhi. While 342 passengers deboarded the trains, there were 326 who boarded these trains to all these directions. Owing to several formalities there were some hiccups in checking out from the station. It took over an hour for the last passenger to move out when the Delhi-Bengalaru train arrived 45 minutes late at 11am.
Central Railway spokesperson SG Rao said, “We recorded all details of the passengers. They were allowed one-by-one maintaining Covid distancing. Besides, they were screened and sanitized and stamped for home quarantine for at least 14 days as per the directives from the district administration before being let out. This took time.”
Rao clarified that passengers coming from green zones like Bilaspur will also be quarantined. “If any passenger is found symptomatic he will be referred to IGGMCH or GMCH while asymptomatic will be sent home with stamps on left hands,” he added. There was some delay in checking out as thermal scanning guns did not function. Rao said these guns were replaced immediately.
Some passengers like Gaurav Bahe (Gondia) and Mayur Warke (Ballarshah) said, “Due to error in thermal scanning machine, our temperature was shown abnormal. Later, when it was checked again after replacement of equipment, it was normal.” Overall, the railways ensured there is Covid distancing while boarding of train and deboarding. The arrangement was similar to what it is there at airports.
The 342 passengers leaving for Delhi, Bilaspur and Bengalaru had to reach the station 60 minutes before to complete the formalities. Entry or exit from station’s east side has been completely barred. 90% passengers were youths, who were either left jobless or were on verge of losing jobs. Mrunal Urade (26), a student, welcomed railway’s move. “I and my friends were stuck in Delhi due to lockdown and things were getting difficult,” he said.
“I had qualified CDS exam and had gone to appear for medical exam and was stuck in Delhi for 55 days. I stayed with a mutual friend there at Rajori Garden, a green zone and hence was safe,” said Shivam Singh from Saunsar. Swapnil Patil (Reshimbagh) & Sahil Khan (Ramtek), both worked in Gurgaon. They said, “Many employees got 50% salary and many didn’t. Hence our supervisor advised us to go home. We worked in Gurgaon but due to lockdown, getting food was becoming difficult. We will work from home now.”
Then there were many like S Manohar from Godhani. She said, “I went to prepare for UPSC. We girls use to live in an apartment but now as everything is closed there, we had no option.” Many like Maninder Singh (Chimur) and Kunal Sahare (Sakoli) worked as temporary workmen at Maruti Udyog in Gurgaon but the plant is closed they were asked to go home.
Many passengers were exploited by service providers. “We were charged Rs2,000 for 24km from Gurgaon to Delhi station. A food vendor charged Rs110 for a small box of rice and dal in train near Jhansi,” they said.