Indian Railways has completed its 167 years of successful operation. However, there’s an exception to everything in the world. The year 2020 has proven to be an exception for the national transport giant as no passenger trains are running on tracks leading to a loss of around 250 crores daily. The reason being the deadly coronavirus pandemic spreading worldwide. Spreading its tentacles from the originating point (Wuhan, China) it has now reached India and other major countries with rising cases.
Indian Railways Suspends Passenger Trains:
Maintaining social distance is one of the steps to curb COVID-19 pandemic. A distance of 1.5 to 2 meters has to be maintained which would make the virus ineffective to travel and become contagious. In the earlier phase, Indian railways decided not to provide blankets to the passengers. With the situation worsening day by day, the transport giant decided not to run any passenger train as this might increase the probability of infection. Instead, it started to convert its coaches into isolation wards embedded with medical facilities.The suspension of passenger trains was taken during the lockdown period which was expected to end by 14th April. However, it was extended till 3rd May, thus leading to further extension of railway passenger train services.
Indian Railways Preparing Action Plan:
As we all know that Lockdown 2.0 has been extended till 3rd May leading to non-operation of passenger trains, but railways apart from facilitating the Coronavirus patients with medical aid, it is preparing a restoration plan which will be followed post lockdown. It is expected that few trains will run after the lockdown and railways is identifying the routes in respective zones to run trains. After the restoration of train services, the train journey in India will not be as easy as it used to be before. Railways post lockdown services will include:
No Platform Tickets: Platform ticket is one of the effective sources of revenue for Railways. There are a set of platform ticket rules which every visitor has to follow. This ticket grants access to the visitor to enter in platform premises. Railways had decided not to sell platform tickets to avoid overcrowding at station premises.
Thermal Screening at Railway Stations: Passengers, only with reserved tickets will be allowed to enter the platform premises to board their train. However, before entering the station, passengers have to go through a thermal screening which will detect symptoms of coronavirus, if any. If the passenger is found with any symptoms he/she will be debarred from journeying on the train.
Passengers have to reach four hours before the departure of Train: It is expected that the passengers have to go through a fumigation tunnel or a disinfectant tunnel before entering the station. The purpose of this tunnel is to sanitize the passenger before entering the station. Thermal screening, sanitization and other formalities can take enough time so passengers will be requested to come four hours before departure of the train.
General and AC coach to be removed: Railway issues restoration plan in COVID19 and has stated that general coaches and AC coaches will be removed from the trains post lockdown. The general coaches will be removed due to overcrowding. If there’s no overcrowding there is less probability of COVID-19 infection.
Travel could be allowed only on reservations: Only reserved ticket holders will be allowed to travel. No general ticket holders or unreserved ticket holders will be allowed to travel.
Only Half of the Seats will be open for Reservation: Keeping in mind the importance of social distancing; only half of the seats will be open for reservation. This would maintain a gap between two passengers thus following the policies of social distancing.
No Pantry cars; only e-catering will be the option: The trains ready to carry passengers will not have any pantry car attached to it. The passengers will have to use e-catering services to order food in train at their desired station.
Stoppage Time: The stoppage time on stations will be doubled to avoid crowding at stations.
Corona Hotspots: There’re many places in India which are identified as corona hotspots due to maximum number of coronavirus cases. This is one of the most effective decisions of railway’s post lockdown action plan. The trains will not halt on these hotspots as there’re chances of getting passengers’ infected with this deadly disease.
Indian Railways preparing its restoration plan in lockdown seems to be effective and safe for the passengers who need to travel via train. Also, passengers are requested to comply with the rules and regulation framed by the railways post lockdown. They are expected to cooperate with the rail staffs and authority for a safe journey.