The Indian Railways will start running 392 festival special trains from 20 October till 30 November to cater to the festive season rush in addition to the special trains that are currently plying.
Not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing and boarding train despite being COVID positive could invite fine and imprisonment, according to guidelines issued by the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
The special trains will be run for destinations such as Kolkata, Patna, Varanasi and Lucknow to cater to the growing demand in the holiday period of Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali and Chhath Puja, it said.
Trains will run for 40 days only in addition to the special trains that have been deployed by the national carrier. At present, a total of 666 mail and express trains are running while all regular trains have been suspended indefinitely in view of the pandemic.
The fares for these trains will be according to those applicable for special trains, the railways ministry said, which means that ‘special charges’ will be levied, making the tickets costlier by 10-30% as compared to the fares of mail/express trains, depending on the class of travel.
‘Special charges’ are fixed as a percentage of fare at the rate of 10% of basic fare for second class and 30% of basic fare for all other classes.
“To clear the festive rush, Ministry of Railways has approved 196 pairs (392 trains) of “Festival Special” services over Indian Railways to be operated from 20 October 2020 and 30 November 2020. The fare for these Festival Special services shall be that applicable for special trains. Zonal Railways will notify their schedule well in advance,” the ministry had announced on 13 October.
A detailed guideline has been issued by the RPF for travellers which includes not wearing a mask or wearing one improperly, not maintaining social distancing, coming to railway area or station or boarding a train after having been declared COVID positive.
“Since these acts or omissions are likely to aid in the spread of coronavirus, they will tantamount to interference with passenger amenities provided by the railway administration, wilful omission or neglect endangering or causing to be endangered the safety of any person or rash and negligent act or omission likely to endanger the safety of any person travelling or being upon any railway and may be punished with imprisonment and/or fine under section 145, 153 and 154 of Railway Act 1989,” the RPF guidelines said.