The Indian Railways has canceled all train tickets for passenger trains, including mail, express, and suburban services, for journeys booked till 30th June. Further, it stated that a full refund will be issued to all the affected passengers. The railways had suspended passenger train services since March 22 to mitigate the virus spread in the country.
The statement also clarified that ‘shramik (worker)’ trains being run to transport stranded migrants and ‘special’ passenger trains that was started this week and running between Delhi and 15 stations as part of efforts to gradually restart normal service will continue to operate as scheduled.
“Competent authority has desired that all tickets booked for the period up to 30th June 2020, may be canceled and a full refund generated,” a Railway Board order said.
The canceled tickets were booked before the lockdown when the Railways was still taking reservations for journeys in June. People who booked tickets 120 days prior to date of the journey will get a refund against cancellations.
As per sources, last month, the Railways refunded around Rs 1,490 crore after 94 lakh tickets, booked before the lockdown was imposed, were canceled and a further Rs 830 crore was refunded for travel planned between March 22 and April 14, the first phase of the lockdown. With the extension of the lockdown to 17th May, the Railways had stopped taking bookings for all regular trains.
However, on Sunday the Railways announced plans to restart passenger trains in a phased manner, five days before the end of the lockdown, as the government looks to re-start normal life and boost a stuttering the national economy. These ‘special’ trains – meaning a total of 30 return journeys, the first of which departed on Tuesday, will leave from New Delhi station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad, and Jammu Tawi.
Passengers on these trains, apart from being directed to follow social distancing and wear face masks, must now also give an address in the destination city, to help with contact tracing if needed.
According to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, all passengers shall be compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers shall be allowed to enter/board trains.
“If during screening, a passenger has a very high temperature/symptoms of COVID-19, etc., he shall not be allowed to travel despite having confirmed tickets. In such a case, a full refund shall be provided to the passenger,” the order stated.
Further, it said that on a group ticket if one passenger is found unfit to travel and all other passengers on the same PNR also do not want to travel, in that case, a full refund shall be granted for all passengers.