Indian Railways will resume passenger train services from May 12 abiding by the new suggestions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for controlling the spread of coronavirus. The MHA has prepared a standard operation protocol (SOP) for the travellers to ensure proper social distancing from boarding the train till the end of the journey.
The Ministry stated that only those having confirmed e-tickets including the driver will be granted permission to enter the railway premises. Offline purchasing of tickets will be allowed neither at the counters nor through any agent.
They have also directed for “compulsory thermal screening” of all passengers at the entry points and only those found “asymptomatic” will be permitted to board the train. Therefore, passengers need to arrive 90 minutes before the commencement of their journey.
The entry and exit checkpoints at every station shall be providing hand sanitizers to everyone. Even each and every coach will be equipped with sanitizers for the convenience of the travellers.
Wearing of face masks has been made mandatory from entering the stations and also during the journey. Also, everyone needs to adhere to social distancing norms before and during travel.
The Railways will recommence their services initially with 15 pairs of trains, inclusive of 30 return journeys. They will be operated as “special trains” departing from New Delhi station and linking Dibrugarh, Agartala, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Howrah, Bhubaneswar, Bilaspur, Secunderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai Central, Madgaon, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
There will also be no meal supplies in the train, though IRCTC will furnish all with packaged food items and drinking water on payment basis. All those who will be travelling are thus recommended to carry an ample amount of food with themselves.
These “special trains” will have the same fares as that of the first, second and third class AC Rajdhani trains. Tickets can be cancelled up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure of trains. Cancellation charges shall be 50% of fares.