The Centre on Wednesday announced that the Indian Railways will run 200 more trains from June 1 and the booking of tickets will start from 10 am on May 21 (Thursday), amid the coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown. These special services will be in addition to the existing 'Shramik' special trains being run since May 1 and the special AC trains (30 trains) being run since May 12.
In an official statement, the Ministry of Railways (MoR) in consultation with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) announced its decision. It stated that other regular passenger services including all mail/express, passenger and suburban services will remain cancelled until further notice.
The train type will be special trains on the pattern of regular trains. These will be fully reserved trains having both AC and non-AC classes. The General coaches will also have a reserved seat for sitting. There will be no unreserved coach in the train.
The fare will be as normal and for General (GS) coaches, being reserved, second seating (2S) fare shall be charged and seat will be provided to all the passengers.
Booking of Tickets & Charting:
I. Only online E-Ticketing will be done through IRCTC website or through Mobile App. No tickets will be booked across the reservation counter on any Railway Station. Booking of tickets through ‘agents’, (both IRCTC Agents and Railway Agents) shall not be permitted.
ii. The ARP (advance reservation period) shall be maximum 30 days.
iii. RAC and Waitlist will be generated as per extant rules however waiting list ticket holders shall not be permitted to board the train.
iv. No unreserved (UTS) tickets will be issued and no tickets will be issued onboard to any passenger during the journey.
v. No tatkal and premium tatkal booking shall be permitted in these trains.
vi. The first chart shall be prepared at least 4 hours before scheduled departure and the second chart shall be prepared at least 2 hours((unlike the present practice of 30 minutes) before scheduled departure. Only online current booking shall be permitted in between first and second chart preparation.
vii. All passengers shall be compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to enter /board the train.
viii. Passengers travelling by these special services will observe the following precautions :
1. Only passengers with Confirmed tickets shall be allowed to enter the Railway station.
2. All passengers must wear face covers/masks at the entry and during travel.
3. The passengers shall reach the station at least 90 minutes in advance to facilitate thermal screening at the station. Only passengers who are found asymptomatic will be permitted to travel.
4. Passengers shall observe social distancing both at the station and on trains.
5. On arrival at their destination, the travelling passengers will have to adhere to such health protocols as are prescribed by the destination state/UT
Quota Permitted: All quotas shall be permitted in these special trains as has been permitted in Regular trains. A limited number of reservation (PRS) counters shall be operated for this purpose. However, normal ticket booking cannot be done through these counters.
Concessions: Only four categories of Divyangjan concession and 11 categories of patient concessions are permitted in these special trains.
Cancellation and Refund rule: Railway Passengers (Cancellation of Ticket and Refund of Fare) Rules, 2015 shall be applicable.
In addition following instructions already issued regarding a refund of fare in case, the passenger is not found fit for travelling due to symptoms of coronavirus shall remain applicable.
As per MHA guidelines, all passengers shall be compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers shall be allowed to enter/board the train.
If during screening a passenger has a very high temperature/symptoms of Covid-19 etc., he shall not be allowed to travel despite having confirmed tickets. In such case, a full refund shall be provided to a passenger as under:-
(i) On PNR having a single passenger.
(ii) On a party ticket if one passenger is found unfit to travel and also all other passengers on the same PNR do not want to travel in that case full refund shall be granted for all passengers.
(iii) On a party ticket if one passenger is found unfit to travel however other passengers on the PNR want to travel in that case full refund of fare shall be granted to a passenger who was not allowed to travel.
For all the above cases, TTE certificates as per extant practice shall be issued to the passenger at the entry/checking/screening point itself mentioning “Number of passengers not travelled due to symptoms of COVID-19 in one or more passengers”. After getting TTE certificates, online TDR shall be filed for a refund of not travelled passengers, within 10 days from the date of journey and the original.
TTE certificate issued shall be sent by the passenger to IRCTC as per extant provision and full fare for the part passenger/full who have not travelled shall be refunded by IRCTC in the customer’s account.
For the above purpose, CRIS and IRCTC shall make necessary changes for filing of TDR for non-travelling passengers due to COVID-19 symptoms. One option ‘part/full passenger not allowed to travel by Railways due to very high temperature/COVID-19 symptoms’ will be available.
Catering: No catering charges shall be included in the fare. Provision for pre-paid meal booking, e-catering shall be disabled. However, IRCTC shall make provision for limited eatables and packaged drinking water on payment basis only in limited trains, having Pantry car attached. Information to this effect shall be made available to passengers during the time of booking ticket.
Passengers are encouraged to carry their own food and drinking water. All static catering and vending units (Multi-Purpose stalls, Bookstalls, Misc./Chemist stalls etc) at Railway stations will remain open. In case of Food Plaza and Refreshments rooms etc, cooked items may be served as take away only with no sit-down eating arrangements in place.
Linen and Blanket: No linen, blankets and curtains shall be provided inside the train. Passengers are advised to carry their own linen for the travel. The temperature inside AC coaches shall be suitably regulated for this purpose.
Zonal Railways have been instructed to ensure that there are separate entry and exit gates at Railway stations to the extent feasible so that there is no face to face movement of passengers. Zonal railways will be guided by standard social distancing guidelines on stations and trains and observe the safety, security and hygiene protocols.
All passengers must download and use the Aarogya Setu application. Passengers are advised to travel light.
As per MHA guidelines the movement of the passenger(s), as well as the driver of the vehicle transporting the passenger(s) to and fro the Railway Station, shall be allowed on the basis of the confirmed e-ticket.