Railways to start 15 Special Rajdhanis from today: All you need to know
The Indian Railways will start running its special trains, called ‘Special Rajdhanis’ connecting New Delhi with 15 other cities from Tuesday (May 12), marking the Centre’s efforts to restore normalcy after a lockdown of almost 50 days.
The Home Ministry in a notification issued on Monday (May 11) had clarified that only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel, and directed them to arrive at the station at least 90 minutes before the train’s departure, for thermal screening. Passengers were also asked by the government as well as respective railways to carry their own bedsheets and food.
On Monday, the booking began on a bumpy note when the IRCTC website didn’t load for several passengers at the stipulated booking time of 4 pm.
When the booking re-started at 6pm, the tickets sold like hot cakes. The AC-1 and AC-3 tickets for the Howrah-New Delhi train were sold within the first 10 minutes of the counter’s opening. Similarly, the tickets for the Bhubaneswar-Delhi special train were sold out within 30 minutes after the IRCTC opened its counter.
According to a Hindustan Times report, within 9.15 pm around 30,000 PNRs (passenger name records) were generated and seats were reserved for 54,000 passengers.
The fare structure of the special trains is similar to premium Rajdhani trains and the trains will have first, second and third AC coaches.
At the meeting of chief ministers with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, although several state heads wondered if resuming passenger train services is safe at this point of time, Modi said the trains will run as scheduled and there was no instruction to cut down on the list of destinations.
According to guidelines, online cancellation of tickets will be permitted up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure of the trains, but the cancellation fee will be 50 per cent of the fare. Besides, only passengers with confirmed tickets and who have passed the thermal screening will be allowed to board trains.
Dry, ready-to-eat food like biscuits and bottled water will be available on board at a price. An Indian Express report quoting IRCTC officials said the reason why Railways isn’t providing food, even for long-distance trains, is most likely because of difficulty in procuring resources during the lockdown.
Keeping in mind the health of passengers and the threat due to central air conditioners, ACs in coaches will be kept at a lower temperature and refreshed 12 times an hour, like how it is being done in trains in China in the wake of COVID-19, the IE report said.
The Railways has also urged passengers to download the COVID-19 tracking Aarogya Setu App, although it is not mandatory.