Over 93,000 Indian Railway staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past few weeks, pushing the railway that has continued to run despite an unprecedented second wave to the wall.
Quoting unnamed sources, The Indian Express reported that the national transporter is rationalising its manpower to ensure its operations are not affected, particularly at a time when migrants are rushing home. The Railway is also expected to run dedicated oxygen-carrying trains.
“Roughly 93,000 railway employees are affected by Covid (presently). Not all require hospitalisation… We have lost lives as well. We are in close touch with our frontline workers which include drivers, guards, maintainers, station masters and TTEs and motivating them. We have already identified 72 hospitals of Indian Railways where our Covid-positive employees and their beneficiaries are being treated. More than 5,000 beds have been earmarked for these people,” Railway Board Chairman and CEO Suneet Sharma said.
While Railways has around 12 lakh employees, sources said, most of those infected are frontline workers connected with daily operations of passenger and freight trains. “The figures you see are of those who have reported to railway hospitals officially. The real numbers may be higher… Railways is under stress due to so many infections,” a senior official said.