Indian Railways on Saturday said if a passenger who has already booked a ticket but chooses not to travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, he or she can collect the refund against it within 30 days from journey date. This comes as the latest among the measures the authorities are taking to discourage travel by train.
Informing people about cases of coronavirus-infected passengers travelling in trains, the Railways Ministry urged people to postpone their journeys. “Avoid train travel as you may also get infected if your co-passenger has Coronavirus. Postpone all journeys and keep yourself and your loved ones safe,” the ministry tweeted.
In the past one week, the Railways has taken a slew of important measures to curb the spread of the virus among its travellers.
In a bid to discourage non-essential travelling during the Janata curfew, Indian Railways has announced that it would stop all its services between 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday. According to the health ministry, the Janata curfew will help break the chain of coronavirus transmission in the country. However, trains that have already commenced their journey would be allowed to reach their destination.
Apart from cancelling trains scheduled on Sunday, the Railways has cancelled about 300 pairs of trains from March 20 to March 31. When trains are cancelled, the entire ticket amount is refunded without deducting the cancellation fee.
Relaxation of rules for refund
Relaxing the rules for refund against paper tickets already booked on the cancelled trains, the authorities said the amount can be sought within three months from the journey date. Earlier it had pushed the deadline from three days to 45 days before extending the same to three months. This has been done to avoid crowding at the counters.
In case a train is not cancelled, but a passenger scheduled to travel on the same wants to cancel his or her ticket, he or she can collect the refund against it within 30 days from the journey date, instead of the existent rule of claiming the amount within three days.
Kitchens, refreshment rooms shut
IRCTC has also decided to shut food plazas, refreshment rooms, kitchens, and other static units for an indefinite period to discourage non-essential travels across India.
Onboard catering suspended
Sunday onwards, onboard catering services will stand suspended, the Railways has announced. Only packaged items, like snacks, tea and coffee may be served if there is a demand. However, food will continue to be served on trains where the ticket price includes the food component.
Indian Railways as of now has suspended all travel concessions except concessions to students, patients and disabled, to discourage inessential travel. This means that all other train concessions, like senior citizens, farmers, war widows, VIPs, delegates, etc. stand suspended for now.
Railways gets rid of blankets, curtains, to regulate AC coaches
No blankets, increasing the temperature in air-conditioned compartments, removing curtains and ticket-checking staff wearing masks. These are some of the other measures Indian Railways, transporting 2.3 crore passengers every day, has taken in its fight against Covid-19.
Railway workers are also deployed to clean and disinfect station complexes and train coaches including seats, toilets, handles to minimise chances of community transmission through the travel of any infected person in train.
Thermal screening at stations
Apart from these, some of the district and state administrations have started thermal screening at various railway stations.
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