Almost 45 days after suspending the passenger, mail and express train services amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, the Indian Railways on Sunday announced they would run 15 air-conditioned (AC) express trains equivalent to its premium Rajdhani Express from May 12 with limited stops.
Railway Ministry’s Executive Director, Media, Rajesh Dutt Bajpai, in a statement said: “The national transporter is planning to gradually restart special AC passenger train operations from Tuesday with 15 trains, including their return journey, with limited stops.”
He said the online booking for the trains will start at 4 p.m. on Monday.
Bajpai said in the initial phase, the 15 pairs of trains will run as special AC trains from New Delhi Station to Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
He said, all the coaches will be all AC with limited stoppage and the fare will be equivalent to Rajdhani Express train.
Bajpai said that in AC three-tier coaches, 52 passengers will be allowed while in AC two-tier coaches, 48 passengers will be allowed keeping in mind the protocol of social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Indian Railways shall start more special services on new routes, based on the available coaches after reserving 20,000 coaches for Covid-19 care centres and adequate number of coaches being reserved to enable operation of up to 300 trains everyday as ”Shramik Special” for stranded migrants,” he said.
Booking for the reservation in these trains will start at 4 p.m. on Monday and will be available only on the IRCTC website.
Bajpai also said that there will be no provision of Tatkal and premium Tatkal accommodation and no current booking shall be allowed.
He also said that tickets shall 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,” he added.
Bajpai also said that ticket booking counters at the railway stations shall remain closed and no counter tickets, including platform tickets shall be issued.
“Only passengers with valid confirmed tickets will be allowed to enter the railway stations. It will be mandatory for the passengers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the train. Further details including train schedule will be issued separately in due course,” he said.
Asked how early a passenger need to arrive at railway station, he said that the passengers need to arrive two hours before the departing time.
“Every passenger will be thermal screened and then only allowed to enter inside the station premises,” he said.
The railways had suspended the passenger, mail and express train services in view of the nationwide lockdown since March 24.
On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced 21-day nationwide lockdown to combat Covid-19. He again extended the lockdown for 19 more days till May 3 and then government once again extended the lockdown for to more weeks till May 17.
Only freight and special parcel trains were running to transport the essential items across the country.
The Indian Railways started to run the Shramik Special trains from May 1 to transport the stranded migrant workers, students, pilgrims and tourists across the country on the request of the state governments.
So far, over 428 Shramik special trains were operated by the Railways carrying 4.5 lakh migrant workers.