Ever since the government of India imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25, following the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in the country, which currently has 70,000-plus positive cases, life in our otherwise clamorous India has come to a haunting standstill.
Of all the sectors affected by Covid-19, perhaps travel has been the hardest hit, both here and globally, with borders across the world closed for travel. The travel and restaurant industries are anticipated to limp back to normalcy, coping with huge deficit in cash and mass unemployment.
Be that as it may, both industries generate massive employment for the country and contribute considerably to state and centre coffers – The World Travel and Tourism Council calculated the annual contribution of the travel and tourism sector to India’s GDP at a whopping 9.2 per cent.
To that end, the news of the Indian Government green lighting Indian Railways to ply special passenger trains comes as good news, and also as a huge relief for thousands of students, working professionals and migrant workers stuck in different cities for more than two months.
On May 12, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) kicked off services with special passenger trains that would be plying on new routes from New Delhi connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi. Since then, the Railway Ministry has issued reservations to over 54,000 passengers, ANI reported.
The bookings for these trains can be made solely on IRCTC’s official site, even as platform bookings remain closed. Additionally, the ruling stated that only passengers with confirmed bookings and reservations would be allowed to enter stations and that it will be mandatory for the passengers to wear masks and undergo screening at departure. For preemptive measure, only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the trains and they will have to carry their own bedding. Also, catering service charges will be not be included in the fare.
The IRCTC has made it mandatory for all passengers to have the Aarogya Setu – the Covid-19 tracking app launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology – on their phones to avail of this service.
For more details on the entire schedule and things to keep in mind before making a booking, click here.