The Indian Railways has been running 200 special trains (100 pairs) across the country since mid-May, while the regular train services continue to remain suspended till August 12. When booking tickets on the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) website or the Rail Connect app, passengers can choose only from the list of special trains.
For example, if the passenger wants to travel from Bengaluru to Chennai, the IRCTC website will show that the trains have been suspended. On the other hand, if the passenger wants to travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai, Nethravathi special train is available and he/she can proceed to book the ticket on the website as usual. So, it is important to check the list of special trains before booking the train tickets.
While some of these special trains have air-conditioned coaches, the Indian Railways said that they have taken the necessary precautions to ensure high air exchange per hour to minimise the risk of transmission in the closed space.
The new Roof Mounted AC Package Unit (RMPU) system, which was initially installed in new coaches, will replace the air 16 to 18 times per hour, unlike the previous system of six to eight times per hour. Instead of recirculating the air, fresh air will be pumped into the coaches, a Railway official told TNM. Besides, the temperature has been reportedly increased from 23 degree Celsius to 25 degree Celsius.
IRCTC guidelines before and during the journey
> Passengers must arrive at the station at least 90 minutes prior to the journey for the mandatory thermal screening.
> Only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the train. Symptomatic passengers will be asked to return and the Indian Railways will initiate the cancellation and refund from the station itself.
> No blanket and linen will be provided on the train.
> No food will be provided in trains. Passengers should carry their own food and drinking water.
> Trains with pantry cars will not serve cooked food. Packaged food, beverages and water as well as tea or coffee will be available in limited trains and station catering units. Since catering service is not available, these charges will not be included in the fare.
> Use face masks throughout the journey. Maintain physical distance and wash hands frequently.
> Passengers are advised to download the Aarogya Setu mobile app before commencing the journey.
On-arrival guidelines at railway stations in south
Once the passenger arrives at the destination station, the protocols will vary according to the guidelines prescribed by the respective state governments. Here are the on-arrival guidelines laid down by the four south states for passengers arriving by trains. Currently, there are no special trains to Tamil Nadu.
> Passengers will be thermally screened on arrival by a COVID-19 medical team.
> The details of all passengers will be noted on arrival.
> Asymptomatic passengers will have to go for a 14-day quarantine.
> Symptomatic persons shifted to the COVID hospitals and COVID Care Centers
> Test swabs from 10% of the passengers coming by trains will be taken by a medical team near the railway station in the mobile buses.
> All passengers coming to Karnataka must register on the Seva Sindhu portal and provide correct information about their contact number and destination address.
> There will be a health screening at the stations.
> Those with symptoms will be taken to COVID Care Centre or Dedicated COVID Health Centre and tested on arrival.
> Asymptomatic passengers coming from all states, including Maharashtra, will be placed in a 14-day quarantine.
> Business and transit travellers should show confirmed return tickets that should not be less than seven days after the date of arrival.
> Business travellers coming for less than 48 hours will be exempted from quarantine and COVID-19 test.
> Those staying in Karnataka for more than 48 hours and less than seven days should undergo the COVID-19 test and stay in quarantine till the results come negative. Alternatively, the person can show a coronavirus negative certificate.
> Passengers with a valid train ticket should register on the COVID-19 Jagratha portal. Details such as departing station, destination station, train/special train number and PNR number must be entered in the portal. The address in the state of origin and arrival should be compulsory furnished.
> On arrival, the details of the passengers will be verified and medical screening will be conducted.
> While asymptomatic persons will undergo home quarantine for 14 days, symptomatic passengers will be sent to either COVID-19 Care Centre or Hospital.
> Pick-up vehicles for passengers will be allowed to park at a designated place and only a driver will be permitted to pick up. The driver will also be put in home quarantine for 14 days. A Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (Kerala RTC) will be provided from the railway station to the designated space for pickup vehicles.
> Kerala RTC buses will be provided by the District Administration to drop passengers to the district headquarters/ major towns.
Currently, the railway stations in Telangana are not screening any passengers on arrival. Although there are no strict quarantine rules, the Telangana government has advised self-surveillance.