By Arré Bench May. 13, 2020
India’s railway stations are a far cry from what they used to be. Unusually clean and empty platforms greeted the few passengers who had booked online tickets. Clips showed travellers maintaining distance as they stood in long snaking queues.
For the first time in nearly two months, railway stations partially opened their doors to passengers, as part of the lockdown easing measures. The stations, however, as revealed on social media over the last couple of days, are a far cry from what they used to be.
Unusually clean and empty platforms greeted the few passengers who had booked online tickets up to seven days in advance. Clips showed the travellers maintaining the requisite distance at New Delhi station as they stood in long snaking queues.
VIDEO: Hundreds of passengers line up to enter the New Delhi railway station as India partially resumes train services as part of lockdown easing measures — even as new cases surge pic.twitter.com/Pk8vXDgw2J
— AFP news agency (@AFP) May 13, 2020
The first few trains to leave from the national capital had just over a thousand passengers, reports said, a number that’s usually hosted in a single compartment of the average Mumbai local. Each of them were screened at the entrance, where they had been asked to report up to 90 minutes in advance. Masks were compulsory.
In possibly another first, passengers on the train bound for Howrah, were reported to have praised the arrangements made by the Railways. They also said proper social distancing had been maintained. Images from stations in other parts of the country indicated that they were being sanitised as well before resuming services.
Gujarat: Sabarmati railway station being sanitised ahead of the arrival of passengers to board a special train from here for New Delhi at 6.20pm today pic.twitter.com/ZdVzf35G2h
— Himalayan Mail (@himalayan_mail) May 12, 2020
All Aboard Indian Railways: Passengers are off to New Delhi after boarding Special train at Secunderabad Station
With queues to maintain social distance, facilities for hand sanitising and thermal screening & compulsory masks, passengers are enjoying a comfortable & safe journey pic.twitter.com/TXXkcikYrx
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 13, 2020
Apart from having to make their way through the IRCTC website, passengers were also asked to bring their own sheets, blankets and food. According to a circular issued by the Railways Ministry, only asymptomatic individuals will be allowed to travel for now.
The Railways had earlier announced that it would start operating special trains from May 12 onwards and that booking would start a day before.
Railways plans to gradually restart passenger train operations from 12th May, 2020, initially with 15 pairs of special trains connecting New Delhi with major stations across India. Booking in these trains will start at 4 pm on 11th May.https://t.co/DW9I1sPRx6
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 10, 2020
According to reports, tickets for all these trains were sold out on the same evening. These special trains are now set to ferry 1.7 lakh passengers back home.
As we enter the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown, it’s clear that things are not going to go back to normal overnight. However, in this case, we’re sure many seasoned train travellers will hope that things don’t go back to normal at all.