Railways to restart counter ticket bookings, run more trains soon

Migrants flout social distancing norms as they gather outside a registration camp to travel back to their native places, during the ongoing Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, in Jalandhar. Photo: PTI
In a big relief to passengers, the Indian Railways is set to open around 170,000 common service centres by Friday and railway station ticket counters in the next two-three days.

This comes at a time when ticket bookings for 200 non-air conditioned (AC) trains (will be operational from June 1) started on Thursday.
In a span of two and a half hours since bookings started, around 400,000 tickets were sold, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.

Bookings for 200 trains started at 10 am, except ones running to the East and Northeastern parts of the country wrecked by Cyclone Amphan.

By 4 pm on Thursday, 237,751 tickets for 551,724 passengers were booked on these trains. The national transporter is also expected to announce more trains in June.

“As a step towards bringing the country back to normalcy, we have started some Rajdhani trains. From June 1, there will be 200 trains from different states. The notification for these trains is out. Bookings have started. In the next phase, 170,000 common service centres will undertake bookings. We are going start booking from these centres from Friday,” Goyal said, in an online exchange with Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra.

Goyal added in two-three days, counter bookings at different stations will be opened. The Railways is expected to come out with a detailed protocol.

The national transporter had stopped its passenger services from March 22. From May 1, it had started Shramik Special trains for migrant labourers. From May 12, 15 pairs of special AC trains had started operations.

“Till Wednesday, in a span of 20 days, we have operated 2,050 Shramik trains, helping nearly 3 million people reach home. On May 1, four trains ferried 5,000 passengers, which increased to 279 trains with half a million passengers on Monday,” the minister said.

Till Thursday, only online booking of tickets was allowed; no unreserved tickets were issued. The Railways said in a statement that general coaches will be reserved; allotted seats in these 200 trains and advance reservation period (ARP) will be allowed for 30 days, against earlier seven days for special AC trains.

Before lockdown, ARP for tickets was four months. For these special trains, waitlisted and reservation against cancellation tickets will also be allowed. Current reservation will also be available online up to two hours before scheduled departure, while waitlisted passengers will not be allowed to travel.

“Labourers will now be allowed to come back to work, so that economic activities are back on track,” the minister added.

The Railways has already allowed opening of all shops and stalls on the station premises. Though restaurants will not be opened, takeaways will be allowed.

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