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State-owned Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Ltd on Tuesday announced that it will cancel its fleet of Tejas Express trains from next week, due to low occupancy.

The Lucknow-New Delhi-Lucknow and Ahmedabad-Mumbai Ahmedabad Tejas Express will remain cancelled from 23, 24 November respectively, a senior government official said.

“The trains will be cancelled due to low occupancy. The occupancy rate has been less than 25%. The trains have been cancelled till further notice," the government official cited above told Mint.

IRCTC had restarted operation of Tejas Express trains from October 17, after a hiatus of seven months, to cater to the need of the growing passenger demand, ahead of the festive season.

Due to the outbreak of covid-19, operation of Tejas trains were temporarily suspended from 19 March, less than a year after it was launched as India’s first corporate train. Last year, the railway ministry allowed IRCTC to run Tejas Express--touted to be a train run by an entity other than Indian Railways. The operation of the first corporate train--Lucknow-Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express--started on 4 October, 2019, while the Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Ahmedabad train hit the rails on 19 January.

It also served as a blueprint before inviting private companies to run 151 high-speed, modern passenger trains across more than 100 routes.

“The occupancy remained low despite all the safety protocol followed in these trains. Before March, the occupancy was 70% in case for the Delhi-Lucknow route and around 80% in case of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route," another government official said.

“On getting approval from ministry of railways to again start the operation of the two popular corporate trains, IRCTC is making all round preparations to ensure that the trains once started match the expectation of the people in terms of levels of services and safety and health protocols amidst the ongoing pandemic. Every alternate seat will be kept vacant following the social distancing norms for the initial period," IRCTC had said in October.

Indian Railways has restored operations of 750 special mail express trains in the country. It is also running 265 festival special trains, over and above these mail express trains from 20 October to 30 November.

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