Ticket bookings to open at physical facilities across country, more trains to be announced: Rail Min
In a significant move, the railways on Thursday allowed select reservation counters to open at stations from Friday, nearly two months after they were shut due to the coronavirus lockdown, with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal saying "we have to take India towards normalcy".
He also said that an announcement on resumption of more trains will be made soon.
In an order, the railway board said that such counters along with the common service centres can open from May 22 for booking reserved tickets and the zonal railways can identify stations on which the ticket counters can open.
In a discussion with party colleague Sambit Patra, Goyal said that booking of train tickets will resume at nearly 1.7 lakh common service centres across the country from Friday, making the service accessible to those in remote locations where the availability of computers and internet is negligible or absent.
He said that the opening of ticket counters at stations will be graded as a protocol needed to be developed to ensure that there is no crowding there.
"We have to take India towards normalcy. We are developing a protocol to identify the stations where counters can be opened. We have to ensure that there are no large crowds gathering at counters to book tickets, so we are studying the situation and devising a protocol towards it," Goyal said.
"We will also soon announce the resumption of more trains," he further said during a conversation with his party colleague and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
He said the railways which started the Shramik Special trains from May 1 has run 2,050 such trains since then, ferrying around 30 lakh migrants, students and other stranded people.
Goyal also praised Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani for their cooperation with the railways in running the Shramik Special trains and criticised West Bengal and Jharkhand for their non-cooperation.
He said till date the railways has been able to run only 27 trains in West Bengal and till May 8-May 9, only two trains could reach there. Jharkhand has allowed only 96 trains while Rajasthan has so far received 35 trains, he said.
"Even if we asked for permission to run the train, the Home Minister wrote a letter, even after that a list of 8 trains was received (by West Bengal)," the railway minister said.
"I expect all states to allow their people to come to their homes and help us reach them by running trains."
Crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for conceptualising the railways' isolation coaches for coronavirus patients, Goyal said the prime minister had called him to suggest if these coaches can be converted.
Railways so far has converted around 5,000 coaches into COVID-care centres which will be deployed at 225 stations.
Goyal said the railways has also started bookings for the 100 pairs of special trains with both air conditioned and non-air conditioned services which will begin operations from June 1.
He also said within 2.5 hours of opening bookings for the 100 pairs of special trains on Thursday, four lakh passengers had booked tickets. People have also started reverse bookings to come back to work, he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)