Those wanting to undertake train travel will only be able to book their tickets online and will not be provided meals or linen and blankets during their journey. These were part of instructions issued on Monday by the Indian Railways to all zonal railways. The steps are part of Indian Railwaysâ€™ plans to gradually restart train service for select passenger trains from May 12.
The tickets can only be booked online on the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website or through the mobile app. The booking of tickets through agents (both IRCTC agents and railway agents) will not be permitted. The tickets can be booked just seven days in advance of the journey date.
Tickets can be booked only if they are confirmed. Booking of reservation against cancellation (RAC)/waitlist tickets and onboard booking by ticket checking staff will no longer be permitted. Current booking, and booking of tatkal and premium tatkal tickets will also not be permitted.
Online cancellation of the ticket will be permitted up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure of the train. A cancellation charge of 50% of ticket fare is applicable.
The catering services for prepaid meal booking and e-catering will be disabled. However, IRCTC will make provision for limited eatables and packaged drinking water on payment basis in the trains. The charges for catering will not be included in the ticket fare.
No blanket and linen will be provided on the train either. Those booking tickets will be notified about the discontinuation of catering service, and no provision linen and blankets at the time of making the reservation.
The reservation is expected to begin at 6 pm on May 11, and the railways hope to enable operation of up to 300 Sharmik special trains every day. A senior railway ministry official told The Print that the passengers boarding the train will be screened at the time of departure and strict physical distancing measures will be adopted inside the train coaches.