The Indian Railways which announced it will run 15 pairs of air conditioned trains from Tuesday said on Monday that all the passengers will be thermally screened at the station and they will need to arrive at the station 90 minutes prior to the departure of the train.
The Railway Ministry in a statement said that the national transporter in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided that train services shall be partially restored from May 12 in a graded manner.
“These special trains which are being started presently, will have only air conditioned classes — First, Second and Third tier AC. The fare structure for the special trains shall be applicable for the regular time table as Rajdhani trains, excluding catering charges,” it said.
The ministry said that only online e-ticketing will be done through the IRCTC website or through Mobile App. “No tickets will be booked across the reservation counter on any railway station. Booking of tickets through agents’, both IRCTC agents and railway agents shall not be permitted,” it said, adding that the maximum advance reservation period (ARP) will be of seven days.
These trains will be run as special trains from New Delhi Station connecting 15 important cities of the country — Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi. However, soon after the bookings of the train opened the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) site was slowed down.
The ministry said that only confirmed e-tickets shall be booked and no booking of RAC or waiting list ticket and on board booking by ticket checking staff shall be permitted. Even the current booking, tatkal and premium tatkal booking shall not be permitted and no unreserved tickets (UTS) shall be allowed in these 15 pairs of trains, it said.
The railways also said that no catering charges shall be included in the train fare and provision for pre paid meal booking, e-catering shall also be disabled. “However, IRCTC shall make provision for limited eatables and packaged drinking water on payment basis,” it said.
The railways also urged the passengers to bring their own cooked food and drinking water. Dry, ready-to-eat food and bottled water shall be provided on demand inside the trains on payment basis, it said.
The Railway Ministry said “The passengers shall reach the station at least 90 minutes in advance to facilitate thermal screening at the station. Only passengers who are found asymptomatic will be permitted to travel.”
The railways also said that the passengers need to wear face covers or masks at the entry and during travel and they need to observe social distancing both at the station and on trains. On arrival at their destination, the passengers will have to adhere to such health protocols as are prescribed by the destination state or union territory.
The railways said that as per MHA guidelines the movement of the passengers as well as the driver of the vehicle transporting the passengers to and from the railway station shall be allowed on the basis of the confirmed e-ticket. Pointing out at the rules for the cancellation of the tickets, the railways said that online cancellation shall be permitted up to 24 hours before scheduled departure of train. “No cancellation will be permitted less than 24 hours before departure of train. Cancellation charge shall be 50 per cent of the total fare,” it said.
The railways added that no linen, blankets and curtains shall be provided inside the train. “Passengers are advised to carry their own linen for the travel. The temperature inside AC coaches shall be suitably regulated for this purpose,” it said, asking the passengers to download the Arogya Setu mobile application.
The railways said that the zonal railways have been instructed to ensure that there are separate entry and exit gates at railway stations to the extent feasible so that there is no face to face movement of passengers. “Zonal railways will be guided by standard social distancing guidelines on stations and trains and observe the safety, security and hygiene protocols,” it said.
It said that no stalls or booths on the platforms shall be opened. “No train side vending would be permitted and passengers are advised to travel light,” it added.
The railways has announced to partially start the train services almost 45 days after the train services were suspended amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The national transporter started running Shramik Special trains from May 1 and till date it has operated over 468 trains and transdported over 4.7 lakh people.