Kerala has issued strict guidelines for train passengers who will be arriving in the state starting from May 12, Tuesday. These guidelines came after the Indian Railways announced that it would partially resume operations, with special trains operating on a few routes across the country. On Monday, the government railway website IRCTC opened booking for these trains.
For those who are travelling via train to Kerala, the state government has specified that entry passes into the state must be applied for only via COVID-19jagratha.kerala.nic.in — the state government’s portal.
All those who have earlier applied via this portal by choosing modes of transport other than train should resubmit fresh applications indicating their mode of travel as ‘train.’
Further, the guidelines add that all passengers included in a single ticket (children) will have to form a group while submitting their application for a pass on COVID-19 Jagratha. The application will ask details such as departing station, destination station, train or special train number, PNR number, etc.
At the arriving station, these details of the passengers will be verified and a medical check-up will be done.
Quarantine guidelines will be the same as those coming by road. Those who do not exhibit symptoms will have to undergo 14 days of mandatory home quarantine. If a person fails to follow home quarantine, they will be compulsorily shifted to institutional quarantine. Further, those who land up in Kerala without any exit pass issued to them via the COVID-19 Jagratha portal will also be sent to 14-day institutional quarantine.
Persons who exhibit symptoms during the initial screening will be sent to the pre-quarantine designated centres for quarantine testing or collection of samples.
Pick-up vehicles for passengers arriving in these railway stations have also been allowed on the condition that only one driver is permitted to pick the passengers up. The driver and passenger will follow all social distancing norms and the former will also have to undergo 14 days of home quarantine later. Further, Kerala RTC bus services will be provided from the railway stations to the designated space where these vehicles would be parked.
Kerala has trains coming to Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode from other states. The administration of each of these districts can also arrange for Kerala RTC buses from the railway stations to district headquarters/major towns to help these passengers reach home easily.
Infrastructure in trains, stations
The district collectors will ensure the planned exit of these passengers via multiple gates. Ideally, each exit gate must be allotted for passengers from a particular area or cluster of districts and further travel from the railway station can be coordinated in a planned manner.
Parking slots with a considerable area to park vehicles which will pick up these passengers. These parking spaces, too, need to be in sync with the exit gates so that a passenger exiting from one specific gate will go to a specific parking lot.
There will be functional health desks which will receive those from the specific exit gates and there should be a proper queueing system to reach these desks.
All passengers will have to undergo health check-ups. For this, proper medical check-up cubicles adhering to COVID-19 containment protocol must be set up in the stations. Temperature checks will be done with no contact infrared flash thermometers.
All the luggage will be disinfected at the station and all officials on COVID-19 duty will wear PPEs and use sanitisers.
Further, all passengers found to have symptoms will be shifted to isolation facilities in designated ambulances — these are double-chambered ambulances with drivers wearing PPE kits.
All the staff on duty at the railway stations must be posted for a period of two weeks after which they must undergo two weeks of mandatory home quarantine upon completion of their duties. Further, any COVID-19 related symptoms in any of these staff members must be promptly reported to the state and district Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and RT-PCR tests must be conducted on the suspected worker.
The stations must also be supported with wheelchair facilities, stand by power system and public address systems. The entire area must also be sanitised frequently.
Passengers leaving Kerala via train
For exiting Kerala and travelling via train to other states, the district administration will arrange a medical screening and exit passes at the designated railway stations. The government has made it clear that all passengers who are planning to exit Kerala must reach their respective railway station early — at least 4 hours in advance.
This so that passengers can undergo medical screening and certificate to leave Kerala. While the medical screening is to record the asymptomatic status of the patient, the passenger’s contact history with COVID-19 positive cases will be recorded in his certificate based on self-declaration.