COVID-19 has changed the lives of people in more than one way. It has changed the way we travel, the way we eat, and the way we interact. Train travel in India has been affected from the day India went in a complete lockdown. Indian Railways had suspended passenger services from March 22 midnight due to the pandemic, leaving lakhs of people stranded as road and air services were also stopped during the coronavirus lockdown.
For more than a month, all passenger trains were cancelled to curb the spread of coronavirus transmission.
The railway is the most popular and commonly used means of transportation for many people in India. When trains got cancelled, the lifeline of India got disrupted. To bring back everything to normal, Indian Railways has started operating more than 100 pairs of trains from June 1. However, Indian train travel is not going to be the same as before.
Changes in Train Travel in India after Coronavirus
There are some important changes that will be in effect. The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has published a white paper defining the new normal in terms of travel across India via trains post coronavirus era.
- Safety is the first priority: IRCTC will ensure that anyone who is booking a train ticket, flight ticket, or hotel rooms must be free from coronavirus traces. It will work in a partnership with hotels, airlines, and railway authorities to make sure that only healthy and corona-free passengers can make a travel booking.
- Full support at every stage: IRCTC with the help of its vast network and will provide help to all the tour operators. All the passengers who are planning to travel by trains would be ensured that they are in safe hands. Moreover, all the protocols put in place by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) would strictly be followed.
- Trained escorts for group trips: Trained professionals who are expert in handling large groups of people would be escorting group tours. They will be equipped with all the protective gears and PPE kits when they conduct their procedures.
- Rules for public transport: For all tour bookings, it will be ensured that all transport vehicles are sourced from trusted sources and they are sanitized properly. Also, everyone will be instructed to carry all kinds of protective gears with them for the tour.
- New instructions for tourist places: People who are going on a tour to a pilgrimage place or tourist spot must adhere to the latest rules and regulations put in place by the government.
- Social distancing will be followed: At every stage of the tour, proper social distancing norms and protocols will be followed. Also, the total number of passengers will be decided prior to the tour.
- Food option in train: Passengers are advised to carry food from their home. If that is not possible, then you can order food on trains from IRCTC authorized food partners like RailRestro.
Here are some travel changes proposed for a safe train journey free from coronavirus transmission:
- It is now mandatory for every passenger to wear face masks. Without it, an entry will not be allowed on the station premises.
- All the passengers will be thermally screened before they are allowed to board the train. Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus such as cough, cold, fever, etc. will be forced to forfeit their journey.
- Only passengers with confirmed reservation tickets will be allowed to travel in trains. This means that even unreserved general class compartments will now have a reservation.
- No one is allowed to travel on waitlisted tickets. Also, every passenger should have the “Aarogya Setu” app installed on their phone.
- All the social distancing norms and protocols will be followed during train travel.
- Unauthorized vendors or street hawkers are not allowed to enter the coaches from outside.
- Indian Railways has clearly stated that senior citizens and children who are more prone to catching coronavirus may be dissuaded from travelling on trains.
- All the four doors of a train coach should be locked during the journey to stop the entry of people.
- To follow social distancing norms, side berths will be kept vacant. Moreover, only two passengers will be allowed to board in coaches with 6 berths.
- Indian Railways has been directed by the Government of India to only stop trains at source and destination. Apart from that, trains can stop at 1 or 2 stations en route for necessary things like cleaning, water refill, etc.
These are some of the travel norms that have become a new normal post coronavirus era. Have a safe and corona-free journey on Indian Railways.