After two months of stagnation, during the lockdown, the Indian Railways slowly prepares to connect the country’s distances once again. With effect from May 12(Tuesday), 15 pairs of Special trains (30 including up and down) will be seen connecting major Indian cities with New Delhi. The 15 pairs of trains will run from New Delhi to Howrah, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad, Rajendra Nagar (Patna), Bengaluru, Dibrugarh, Bilaspur, Bhubaneshwar, Jammu Tawi, Chennai, Ranchi, Madgaon, Secunderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Agartala respectively and vice versa (up and down trains). All of these connect the same stations, as would, the Rajdhani Expresses of the Indian railways do. Since the trains will have only AC coaches, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the rakes of Rajdhanis are used.
Indian Railways has announced the timing and frequency of these trains. They are shown in the image below:
Travellers and people booking tickets need to focus on a few exigent information shared by the Ministry of Railways. The booking for the tickets has begun, Monday 6 p.m. onwards, only on the IRCTC website/app. Passengers will be allowed to book advance tickets up to 7 days only. Fares will be similar to that of the Rajdhanis. There shall not be a provision for Waiting List (WL) till May 22, or Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC) until specified (no date is given for the provision of RAC yet) . The waiting list for special trains will be capped at 100 for AC 3 tier, 50 for AC 2 tier, 200 for sleeper class, 100 for chair cars, while the list will be capped at 20 each for First AC and Executive Class, from May 22. The cancellation of tickets is allowed up to 24 hours of the scheduled departure, with a 50% cancellation charge. Bedrolls and certain edibles won’t be provided inside the trains. Only the passengers with confirmed tickets shall be allowed to enter the platform.
The Railways may plan to run more trains in the near future. The Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala has already resumed the production process, a couple of weeks ago. The Home Ministry has issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the movement of people by trains. Passengers have to observe social distancing while en-training and, on arrival to the destination have to adhere to the health protocols of that state/union territory.
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