Dinesh Kumar Kotha spearheads technology, growth and vision of Confirmtkt. After going his engineering in electronics and communication, he started his career as a Java developer and had also set up a taxi fare comparison app called meterup along with his partner Sripad Vaidya.
For the longest time in 2020, people were stuck at homes and avoided travel due to the risk of COVID infection. But as the restrictions start to ease up a bit and travelling becomes a little safer, long lost travel plans have started to surface. Public transportation like passenger trains is running at 40% of pre-COVID capacity to match the demands of its increasing riders. If you plan to take a train ride in 2021, your journey won’t be the same as you remember. That means no more stops in-between to take a joyride or buying food from hackers on the train.
Besides these, the Railways Ministry has laid out a long list of rules, requesting passengers to follow them strictly. This helps reorganise the operations and allow the passengers to enjoy a safe journey. Let’s take a brief look at the few important ones.
- Passengers have to carry their e-tickets/passes. This avoids creation of long queues at the station and reduces the risk of contact.
- Strict security checks have been introduced, eyeing passengers for following social distancing and wearing masks & face shields.
- All low occupancy trains have been discontinued.
- Railways have hiked the prices of platform tickets. This significantly reduces the footfall at stations to avoid the spread of infection.
- Trains no longer stop at stations where zero passengers have to board or get down from. This has significantly increased the speed of trains.
- All railway stations are regularly sanitized to avoid the spread of COVID.
- Passengers are requested to reach the station at least 90 minutes before departure. This allows both (passenger and security staff) to carry out their duties safely and efficiently.
- As COVID cases mount up, Railways have stopped serving food on the trains.
- There are heavy fines for spitting at railway stations and in trains. As we are in the middle of a pandemic, there is no harm in being a responsible citizen.
- The days of ‘Tatkal’ are over. Passengers must make reservations to board the train. Without it, entry is not possible.
- While booking a ticket, a passenger has to share his complete address. This helps the staff to trace the person in case of an outbreak on the train.
- All passengers must carry RT-PCR tests within 72-96 hours of train arrival. The timeline of the same varies as per the rules laid down by the chosen destination (Indian State).
- Passengers are permitted to carry limited baggage.
- It’s mandatory for all passengers to have the Aarogya Setu app on their phones. In case any traveller has COVID symptoms, he won’t be allowed to travel, keeping safety in mind.
How have the above rules turned out for the passengers?
No one could have predicted the outbreak of COVID-19. Now that the world is slowly recovering from it, people have to prepare for the post-COVID challenges. Activities like travelling and going to work need to strike perfect sync with social distancing and the safety of others around you. The above rules stated by the Railways Ministry are based on the same principle.
By removing general ticketing for common passengers ticket prices have become multifold. To offer some relief, the Indian Railways has introduced 2S (Second Seating Coaches)’. But it didn’t offer any immediate solution. Introducing more and more 2S seats has increased the market size to approx 3X. Currently, with just 40% of the trains operating, daily booking numbers have reached pre-covid levels and many people may not get seats due to the same. That said, travellers should understand that we all are in uncharted waters. To keep everyone safe from the infection, passengers should follow the guidelines listed by the Railways, even if it troubles them a little.
Strangely, COVID has brought a major shift in the way Railways used to function in the country. With online booking, clean stations and less footfall, individuals can expect a positive and a different experience while travelling by train in 2021.