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Moving back on track: Beginning tomorrow, 15 trains from New Delhi

Indian Railways IRCTC Train Ticket Booking: More routes may be added after 10 days based on demand for inter-state travel; bookings open 4 pm today

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Updated: May 11, 2020 1:03:01 pm
Moving back on track: Beginning tomorrow, 15 trains from New Delhi Indian Railways IRCTC Online Booking: Railways shall start more services based on the available coaches after reserving 20,000 coaches for Covid-19 care centres.

Indian Railways IRCTC Train Ticket Booking: In a major decision that signals a gradual resumption of normal activities after 47 days of lockdown, the government Sunday said inter-state train services for all passengers — not just stranded migrant workers — will commence from Tuesday. Passenger rail services were shut for about 50 days since March 21 to contain the spread of Covid-19. Read in Malayalam

Initially, the Railways will run 15 pairs (30 return journeys) of air-conditioned “special trains”, modelled on the Rajdhani, connecting 15 major cities with New Delhi. Eight of these (16 return journeys) from New Delhi to Mumbai, Patna, Kolkata, Dibrugarh, Jammu Tawi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Bhubaneswar, will run daily.

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The services from New Delhi to Agartala and Secunderabad will be once a week; from New Delhi to Madgaon, Ranchi, Bilaspur and Chennai twice a week; and to Thiruvananthapuram thrice a week. The tickets for the 15 trains can be booked only on the IRCTC website.

Describing Sunday’s move as part of “plans to gradually restart passenger train operations”, a government statement said, “Thereafter, Indian Railways shall start more special services on new routes, based on the available coaches for Covid-19 care centres and adequate number of coaches being reserved to enable operation of 300 trains every day as ‘Shramik Special’ for stranded migrants.”

By Sunday, the Railways had run 428 Shramik Special trains.

Government sources said there were indications that this was a “trial” to get a sense of the demand for inter-state movement, and assess its compatibility with the outbreak containment strategy. The situation may be re-evaluated in about a week or 10 days, they said.

The fares will be similar to those for Rajdhani trains. Tatkal bookings and waitlists will not be allowed. Only those without any Covid-19 symptoms will be allowed to travel. They will be screened at departure, and required to wear a “face cover”.

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There would be only a few stops, mostly coinciding with operational stoppages, officials said. Only Rajdhani-model trains have been allowed since these do not have unreserved coaches, given the need to maintain social distancing.

The green light for the plan came from the Prime Minister’s office Sunday afternoon. In the morning, state chief secretaries were sounded out during a video conference with Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba that some trains — other than the Shramik special trains for migrants — were being planned with multiple stoppages.

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.

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