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Monday, September 28, 2020

Unlock 4.0: Railways planning to introduce over 100 special trains, in talks with states

If some states, especially Opposition-ruled ones, do not agree to more inter-state trains, the Railways plans to run more trains on routes that do not touch those states.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | September 1, 2020 5:35:17 pm
indian railways, indian railways coronavirus coaches, indian railways trains suspended, railways india lockdownThe existing 200-odd special trains have been witnessing an average of 75 per cent occupancy (File)

In the fourth phase of Unlock, Indian Railways is planning to introduce more special trains with the consent of state governments following a green signal from the Home Ministry. However, the new lot of special trains will be introduced in batches and full resumption of normal services in a pre-Covid scale is still a long way away.

If some states, especially Opposition-ruled ones, do not agree to more inter-state trains, the Railways plans to run more trains on routes that do not touch those states. The existing 200-odd special trains have been witnessing an average of 75 per cent occupancy.

Railway officials in charge of train operations at zonal and divisional levels are holding parleys with states to chalk out a final plan, sources said. An official said the number of additional special trains being mooted is “over 100”. The list has been prepared keeping the prevailing demand in mind on a number of certain routes. Trains to and from Bihar and those connecting Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra and Gujarat have been showing healthy occupancy consistently, officials said.

Railways has been toying with the idea of introducing additional special trains for over a month now. However, keeping in view the surge in Covid-19 cases, with the past five days recording more than 70,000 cases, the decision has been put off repeatedly.

States like Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha have not been keen on the introduction of more trains. “There is a matter of stoppages along with ultimate terminal destinations, there is the matter of law and order which is the purview of the states. Taking all this into account, we are taking to the states before introducing the trains,” said a senior railway official.

Recently, a senior official said the Railways may stop providing blankets, pillows, hand towels and sheets in its air-conditioned coaches when it resumes full services, even after the pandemic ends.

While a formal decision is yet to be taken, the issue is learnt to have been discussed at a high-level video conference between Railway Board top brass and zonal and divisional officials earlier this week.

Three top officials who attended the video conference confirmed this to The Indian Express. “We are moving in that direction,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

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