Indian Railways to restart passenger train operations from Tuesday
Indian Railways plans to restart passenger trains in a phased manner from Tuesday, five days before the end of the national lockdown to break the coronavirus chain of transmission, according to a statement released on Sunday.
Ticket bookings will be opened from 4 pm today, with these to be sold only via the IRCTC website or mobile app. Booking through ticket agents (whether IRCTC or Railways) is not permitted. Counters at all stations, including those for platform tickets, will remain closed.
Passenger services, suspended since the lockdown began March 25, will start with 15 "special" trains (total of 30 journeys) departing from Delhi and connecting cities in Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Tripura.
Only passengers with confirmed and valid tickets will be allowed to enter the station at Delhi, the Railways warned, adding that all passengers would also have to wear face masks, under screening at departure (only asymptomatic people can travel) and maintain social distancing at all times.
All trains will run with AC coaches only and will have limited stoppage. Details regarding train schedule will be issued in due course, the Railways added.
"These trains will be run as special trains from New Delhi station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad, and Jammu Tawi," the Railways' statement said.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted confirmation: "Railways plans to gradually restart passenger train operations from May 12, 2020, initially with 15 pairs of special trains connecting New Delhi with major stations across India. Booking in these trains will start at 4 pm on May 11"
More "special" trains will be operational based on availability of coaches, the Railways said.
Over 20,000 coaches have been converted into COVID-19 isolation wards since March and thousands more have been reserved for "shramik (worker)" trains being run every day to return stranded migrant workers to their home states. These services will continue as per current system and on request of the concerned state governments.
So far the Railways has run 366 "shramik" trains since May 1, carrying around four lakh migrants back to their home states. These have been run with strict rules regarding people in each coach, something likely to be followed for restarting passenger trains as well.