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No blankets, only online booking: The new normal of train travel amid pandemic?

It will be mandatory for travellers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the trains (Photo: PTI)Premium
It will be mandatory for travellers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the trains (Photo: PTI)

  • Passengers travelling in the 15 trains from Tuesday may not be given blankets and linen to reduce the chances of the spread of coronavirus
  • No provision of tatkal and premium tatkal accommodation and also no current booking shall be allowed for these trains

New Delhi: The Indian Railways on Sunday announced gradual resumption of train services from Tuesday. A closer look at the announcement, made only for 15 trains at the moment, suggested a flurry of measures that might be adopted for a longer while as the country is battling a pandemic and social distancing is the need of the hour and a vaccine is yet to be developed.

Initially, the all air-conditioned services will begin on 15 Rajdhani routes and the fare would be equivalent to that of the super-fast train, it said.

The special trains will run from New Delhi to Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.

Officials told PTI that unlike Shramik Specials, in which only 54 passengers were allowed in every coach instead of the regular 72, these trains will run on full capacity, but no concession in fare is likely to be allowed.

Booking for reservation in these trains will start at 4 pm on May 11 and will be available only on the IRCTC website (www.irctc.co.in).

Tickets for these trains can be booked only online on IRCTC website or through its mobile application. Booking of tickets through ‘agents’, (both IRCTC and Railway) shall not be allowed. No provision of tatkal and premium tatkal accommodation will be there and no current booking shall be allowed either.

These tickets, officials told PTI, would have details of the 'dos and don'ts' passengers need to follow - such as arriving at the station at least an hour in advance for screening and other coronavirus protocols, mandatory use of masks and the Aarogya Setu mobile app downloaded on their smartphones.

Ticket booking counters at stations will remain closed and no counter tickets, including platform tickets, will be issued. These measures are increasingly aimed at flattening the Covid-19 curve and measures that can be adopted until near future to maintain social distancing norms.

It will be mandatory for travellers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the trains.

After the resumption of these 15 services, railways will start more trains on new routes, based on availability after reserving 20,000 coaches for COVID-19 care centres and an adequate number for running up to 300 Shramik Specials every day, the Ministry of Railways said in its press statement. This suggests the national transporter might not be resuming its full-fledged train services anytime soon and that they will be scaled up gradually and steadily. The officials told PTI that even if the lockdown ends on 17 May, services will resume only gradually.

Only passengers with valid confirmed tickets will be allowed to enter stations, the railways said.

Another change, if implemented, from the pre-pandemic travel times will be that passengers travelling in these trains may not be given blankets and linen to reduce the chances of the spread of coronavirus. There will be special norms for the air-conditioning inside the coaches and temperatures will be kept slightly higher than the usual and maximum supply of only fresh air will be ensured, PTI further reported.

With inputs from PTI

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