Indian Railways' clone train scheme: A friend of waitlisted passengers

The concept of clone trains was mooted almost a decade ago, however, it was only after the pandemic that the Railways revisited this old proposal.
Considering the huge demand for travel on specific routes, the ministry of railways has announced that it will start 20 pairs of ‘clone special trains’ from September 21. This will be in addition to 310 special trains operating currently. This is for the first time that such trains will be running on Indian tracks.

What are ‘clone trains’?

This is a special scheme to transport waitlisted passengers to their destination. These trains will be operated as an alternative to existing trains, when the actual trains will have a large number of waitlisted passengers. Though only 20 pairs are being introduced now, 20 more are being planned. Over the last couple of months, the railways was evaluating the occupancy level and waitlist numbers of several trains and decided to come up with these 40 pairs of trains. As per the plan, these trains are assigned only for waitlisted passengers.

The concept of clone trains was mooted almost a decade ago, however, it was only after the pandemic that the Railways revisited this old proposal and decided to come up with clone trains. Once the original train reservation charts are prepared (four hours before departure), waitlisted passengers will be informed about their seats on clone train.

“If there is an increased demand for a particular train with a longer waitlist, we will run clone trains in that route. The move will help more passengers,” said V K Yadav, chairman of the Railway Board, addressing a press conference recently.

In fact, this is not the first time that the Railways is coming up with an alternate train mechanism. With a view to provide confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers and also to ensure optimal utilisation of available accommodation, a scheme called Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme – VIKALP was conceptualised and introduced in November 2015. This was initially only for the tickets booked through internet as a pilot project for six months, on Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Jammu sectors of Northern Railway. Later on this scheme was extended in all sectors across Indian Railways. In this scheme, waitlisted passengers of a train can opt for confirmed accommodation in alternate trains.

Specialities of these trains

The reservation for these trains will start from September 19. These clone trains will run on notified timings and will be fully reserved trains. The stoppages shall be limited to operational halts.

Based on the current announcement, 19 pairs of clone special trains will run by utilising Humsafar rakes, while one pair (04251/04252 Lucknow-Delhi Clone special) will be operated as Jan Shatabdi Express. Fare of Humsafar rake will be charged as Humsafar trains and for Janshatabdi rake, fare will be charged as Janshatabdi Express. The ARP (Advanced Reservation Period) for these trains will be 10 days.

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