The Railways has started preparations for getting its frontline staff vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The Railway Protection Force, which saw the many of its men getting affected by Covid-19 while escorting Shramik Specials and distributing food packets at stations, has sent out letter seeking a list of ranks which fall into the category of frontline workers.
Railways raised the matter of its frontline staff vaccinated with the Union Health ministry last week. The RPF, for one, has included foot soldiers like constables and officers like Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, Inspector General, Director General and others as frontline workers.
Among other departments, inspectors, ticket checkers, maintenance staff, drivers, station officials and the like are being included in the list being compiled in all zonal railways. The number is expected to be large.
Over 4548 RPF personnel have been found COVID positive of which 4413 have recovered. Thirty three of its men have succumbed to the virus in the line of duty, data show. Currently over a 100 RPF personnel are still under treatment/observation for COVID-19.
Around 30,000 railway employees have been infected with COVID-19 of which around 700 have died. Mumbai-based Central Railway and Jaipur-based North Western Railway have had 4838 and 3733–the highest numbers in zones—cases of COVID-19 in employees.
Railway hospitals have been working overtime to treat its employees as well as outsiders of COVID-19. Even now, around 2000 employees fall in the category of “active cases”.
“In the line of duty a lot of our colleagues either died or are still suffering aggravated conditions of various illness due to COVID-19. So while the train services get back to normal, insulating the frontline staff of Railways is very important,” said a senior Railway official.
Along with suburban trains in cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, the number of long distance trains are also increasing and are on the verge of getting back to pre-lockdown levels.
During May to August Railways ran 4,621 trips of the Shramik Specials carrying over 63 lakh migrants home back to 23 states, from Tripura to Gujarat and from Tamil Nadu to Uttar Pradesh. The maximum number of trains originated from Mumbai and Surat while the maximum terminated in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.