Since the outbreak of novel coronavirus in the country, the day-to-day life of people has changed significantly. It is not just the eating and working habits that have been affected, but a major thumping of restriction has been made on the travelling as well.
Right after the nation has gone into the ‘unlock’ phase, the railways and airlines services have also resumed their services but with restrictions.
Now, travelling in a train is not same as used to happen in the fascinating ‘Dadi-Nani’ stories that we read in our childhood.
Sharing food with fellow-passengers, taking a stroll at the railway station before boarding the train or at the stoppages, purchasing pakoras from vendors at platforms are all now restricted to the storybooks only.
When these tales will come back to reality, as they were earlier, is still a major question. With the current Covid scenario, it looks far.
But the question is, “What travelling in a train is all about?”
The Indian Railways has rolled-out few special trains on several routes. To travel in these trains, passengers need to follow certain rules as laid by the Railways Ministry’s guidelines.
Booking a ticket
In order to book a ticket, both the options of counter service and online service are available for the customers. In the last week of May, the Ministry had allowed the functioning of counters in a phased manner.
The Booking of tickets on IRCTC website is also being done. When you will go to book a ticket on the website, a pop-up window will appear giving you the details of dos and don’ts during your travel.
It is advised to book a ticket online rather than going to the counter as online booking is easy and also restrict you from going out in the poisonous Covid atmosphere.
What is missing in train now?
As we said earlier, that the trains are running but not the same as they use to be.
Talking about the AC coaches, the curtains and the beddings are removed. The passengers need to carry their own bedding with them.
Pantry cars in the trains are unserviceable now. Although, the water, snacks and pre-cooked dinner will be provided in the trains.
But passengers are very vigil in their journey as they are keeping their food with them and avoid purchasing anything in order to avoid contact.
A noticeable change in the train journeys these days is the minimal use of washrooms by the passengers. Earlier, it used to happen that the washrooms of the overnight trains would have littered by morning. But this is not the case in train journeys these days.
Vendors at platforms
Again, if you are a platform’s tea and puri-sabji lover then you will miss them on your train journeys. Although the tea and snacks are being sold at stations, but not all the shops are operational. Only a few sellers will be seen roaming on platforms selling tea and snacks.
The best part is that they could be seen wearing mask and gloves making their products reliable to consume.
Railway Stations adapt Airports’ rule: The 90-minute rule
That DDLJ iconic scene when Kajol rushed to grab the hands of Shahrukh Khan to board the train is now not possible with this new rule.
The Railways has made it mandatory to reach the railway station 90-minute prior to the scheduled time of the train.
Once you’ll reach the Railway Station, a long queue will be seen which has to go through thermal scanning and then the ticket verification.
“We do thermal scanning of each and every passenger entering the railways’ premises in order to make it Covid-free. If the temperature reading is high or the passenger is feeling uneasy, then we disallow such passengers,” told VK Singh who was deployed at Varanasi’s Manduadih Railway Station.
“We then check the tickets as only the passengers are allowed to travel and no one else is allowed to accompany the passengers except for senior citizens or those who are physically disabled,” he further told.
What is 7-day quarantine rule?
As per the Railways guidelines, those who are travelling through trains need to go to 7-day home quarantine.
When you will book your ticket, you need to enter the address of the place of stay.
But ironically, the self-quarantine rule looks to be restricted on papers only as people are flouting the rule by entering some wrong addresses.
Even when you will reach the destination station, there will be no checking on the passengers who have arrived. No one is going to ask you about your place of stay and there would be no follow-up once you reach your destination.
Overall, it is suggested to travel only in the ‘very urgent’ situation as we are still not completely out of the woods. These relaxations are provided by the government just for the ease of needful.
If you are planning to travel, then do follow social distancing rule and avoid contact with others and with the objects as much as you can.