Indian Railways has taken a slew of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus. The measures are being implemented across all the zones and relate to dis-incentivizing non- essential travel, a proactive outreach and communication campaign and reduction in the number of trains with low occupancies.
These measures are in accordance with repeated advisories of Government of India to minimize the unnecessary travel and social distancing. Yesterday, Prime Minister Shri Modi gave a clarion call to the nation to not to lower the guard against the virus. While advising the nation to stay patient, the Prime Minister had also implored the citizens to stay at home, observe social distancing and avoid crowding.
Indian Railways has taken steps to discourage citizens from undertaking non essential journeys by temporarily removing special incentives for many categories which had been existing for their travel. Indian Railways has done this by pruning the categories of travelers who were preciously entitled to avail concessions. Of 55 different categories which were entitled for concession, now only twenty three (23) sub categories under Patients, Students and Divyangjans will continue to avail concessions for both Unreserved & Reserved segments w e.f from 00:00 hrs of 20th March. (list attached). As per the new provisions, passengers who had booked tickets on concessions are being allowed to travel on those tickets as per extant rule. That means that for railway tickets already purchased before 00:00 Hrs 20th March 2020, in case of travel, no difference in fare shall be collected.
Withdrawal of these concessions would especially be of benefit the senior citizens who are most vulnerable to the Corona virus . It has been seen that the risk of spread and mortality rate due to COVID-19 virus is highest among senior citizens as susceptibility increases with age. As the report of the WHO Joint Mission on Corona virus Disease indicates, “Individuals at highest risk for severe disease and death include people aged over 60 years. WHO, in its travel advisory issued on 29th Feb, 2020, has also suggested elderly travelers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health condition to delay or avoid travel to affected areas. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India has already issued an advisory with several proposed measures and interventions relating to Social Distancing. One of the interventions is “Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, Trains and aeroplanes to maximize social distancing in public transport besides ensuring regular and proper disinfection of surfaces”.
Communication and outreach efforts are being mounted all across the country through Regular announcements on PA Systems of Railway Stations & Trains to sensitize the public about various Do’s & Don’ts highlighting the need for keeping hands clean by frequent washing of hands, maintaining social distance, covering the mouth while sneezing and coughing, precautions to be taken if one has running fever- (don’t travel and report immediately to the Doctor) and not spitting anywhere in the Rail premises. Advisories are being issued to passengers to avoid non-essential train journeys and to ensure that they do not have running fever while they are commencing the journey. At any point of journey if passenger feels that he is having fever, he can contact the Railway Staff for medical attention and further assistance. Social distancing and over crowding is being discouraged by way and means of conversion of vacant sleeper class coaches are being into General Sitting Coaches, where ever needed and raising of platform tickets at various stations across zones on basis of ground situation.
Appropriate optimization is being in done in running of trains in conjunction with the availability of alternate trains on these routes. The demand for travel and level of occupancy of trains are being closely monitored on a daily basis and modifications in the operation train services are being carried out in accordance with actual requirement. Full refund is being granted to the passengers as per rules for the train cancellations have been announced in advance. However, for the voluntary cancellations of tickets done by the passengers, the normal rule is being followed which is based on the system of prior notice in various time slabs.
LIST OF DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF PERSONS GRANTED CONCESSION ON INDIAN RAILWAYS ALONGWITH ELEMENT OF CONCESSION