The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued detailed guidelines and standard operation procedure (SOP) in regard to the movement of persons by trains, amid the nationwide lockdown imposed to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Indian Railways had on May 10th, 2020, announced that it will gradually resume passenger train services from May 12th, 2020 with 15 pairs of trains.
The special trains will run from New Delhi railway station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
“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,” the MHA order stated.
It added, “All passengers shall be compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers are allowed to enter/ board the train. All passengers shall be provided with hand sanitizer at entry and exit points at the station and in coaches. All passengers shall be wearing face covers/ masks at entry and during travel.”
The SOP clearly stated that during boarding and travel, all passengers will have to observe social distancing. vii. Health advisories/ guidelines will be circulated by MoR through Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign for their staff and passengers.
“On arrival at their destination. the travelling passengers will have to adhere to such health protocols as are prescribed by the destination State/ UT,” the order further stated.
It may be noted that all passenger train services have been suspended since the lockdown began on March 25th, 2020.
For the 15 special trains, ticket booking will start at 4 pm May 11th, 2020 on the IRCTC website (https://www.irctc.co.in/) only.
Ticket booking counters at the railway stations shall remain closed and no counter tickets (including platform tickets) shall be issued. Platform tickets will also not be sold.
It may be noted that the MHA has directed the state/UTs to ensure that the migrant workers do not resort to walking on roads, rail tracks and use available special trains.
Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said in a letter to the Chief Secretaries that the states should cooperate with railways in running more ‘Shramik’ special trains “so that travel of stranded migrant workers is facilitated at a faster rate”
Photo credit: Times Now