Passenger train services will be restored to pre-Covid levels in the next few days, the Indian Railways has said, nearly one-and-a-half year after operations were restarted in a graded manner following the first nationwide lockdown.
As many as 1,768 long-distance mail/express trains — the daily average number of trains — will stand restored within a few days, the Railway Board said in a notification issued on Friday.
After Friday’s order, the trains — which had been running as “special” trains with additional charges — too will cease and the special charges will not be levied. While all the trains are running as “special”, around 19% of them are running with special fares that are around 30% more than regular fares. Those trains will also revert to original, pre-Covid fares.
Special train fares, in pre-Covid times, were charged to festival special trains and the like. The Railways also said that the prices for the tickets already booked will remain as is.
Sources aware of the matter said that reverting to regular fares will impact revenues worth around Rs 200 crore per month.
This is the first time since the first lockdown enforced in March 2020 that train services will be completely restored.
After the first lockdown, the Railways resumed 15 pairs of all-AC Special Rajdhani trains on May 12, 2020. Since then, services have been restored in a graded manner, and are nearly back to pre-Covid levels. Currently, 1744 trains are functional.
A ministry spokesperson said on Friday that although services were back to normal, all Covid-19 related restrictions inside trains have not been lifted and the general seating class will continue to be treated as reserved class.