Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said that the Government will announce the resumption of more trains soon as it is “time to take India towards normalcy”.
He added that booking of train tickets will resume at around 1.7 lakh common service centres across the country from Friday.
This move will make the service accessible to those in remote locations where the availability of computers and internet is negligible or absent.
The minister also said that bookings will resume at counters at specific railway stations over the next two to three days. He added that a protocol is being developed with this regard.
Till now, only online booking was allowed through the official IRCTC website and no booking was permitted across the reservation counter on any railway station.
Goyal informed that the Government has also permitted the operation of shops at railway stations. However, only takeaways will be allowed.
The announcement comes a day after the Indian Railways announced to run 200 special trains from June 1. On Thursday, the bookings for these opened and in the first three hours the railways sold 1.78 lakh tickets for 4.23 lakh passengers in 76 trains. These trains will be fully reserved having both air-conditioned and non air-conditioned classes.
Further speaking on the Shramik Specials, Piyush Goyal said since May 1, the Railways has run 2,050 such trains, ferrying around 30 lakh migrants, students, and other stranded people.
The Railways Minister also praised Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani for their cooperation with the Railways in running the Shramik Specials and criticised West Bengal and Jharkhand for their non-cooperation.
“Some states did not cooperate with us to run special trains for sending back migrant workers to their homes. I think there are around 40 lakh people who want to return to West Bengal but only 27 special trains have entered the state so far,” he said.
The Indian Railways resumed its passenger trains from May 12 almost 45 days after services were suspended on March 25 in the wake of the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Government has been running 15 pairs of air-conditioned 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.
These special trains have only air conditioned classes — First, Second and Third tier AC.