The Indian Railways has decided not to resume regular passenger services, at least till June 30. The special trains and Shramik specials, however, will continue operations.
The national transporter said in a notification all the regular passenger operations, including mail, express, passenger, and suburban services would remain cancelled until further guidelines from the authorities. The notification added that all the tickets booked on these trains, till June 30, will remain cancelled and passengers would be given full refund. This comes almost 53 days after the government stopped passenger services on March 22. These tickets were booked before the lockdown was announced in March.
The gradual resumption of passenger services has resumed through 15 pairs of special trains that started operating on May 12. From May 13, IRCTC started taking the destination address of all passengers booking tickets on special trains, to ensure contact tracing, if required later. Before special trains, Shramik special trains started running for transportation of migrants, tourists, and students stuck in various cities on May 1.
Till Thursday, 800 Shramik Special trains have been operationalised from various states transporting over 1 million passengers. In these trains, passengers are provided free meals and water.
Around 1,200 passengers travel each on Shramik Special trains while observing social distancing. A similar number of passengers are transported in special trains.
After the restart of bookings for fully-air conditioned special trains on May 11, over 125,000 tickets worth Rs 45.30 crore for 234,000 passengers have been booked for travel in the next seven days, the Railways said. While 20,149 people traveled on these trains on Wednesday, around 25,737 people were expected to travel on Thursday.
The decision to shut passenger services had led to stopping of around 12,500 daily trains, including 9,000 passenger trains, and 3,500 mail express trains.
In a separate notification, the Railways indicated that wait listed tickets will be available for bookings opening on May 15 for journeys beginning from May 22 for special trains. “We have now relaxed the refund rules for these trains. We will start issuing very few wait-list tickets from May 22 because some passengers are cancelling their tickets at last moment," said a railway official.
These trains will not have RAC (Reservation against cancellation) and no tatkal and premium tatkal quotas will be available.