Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday said in a tweet that Indian Railways plans to gradually restart train services for passengers from May 12, with 15 pairs of special trains initially connecting New Delhi with other cities in India.

Train services for passengers have remained suspended since a nationwide lockdown was imposed to combat the coronavirus in March. The lockdown, extended twice, is scheduled to end on May 17.

“These trains will be run as special trains from New Delhi Station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi,” a government press release said.

The bookings can be done from 4 pm on Monday only through the website of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, the order said. Ticket booking counters at railway stations shall remain closed.

The government added that all passengers will have to wear face masks, and will be screened for coronavirus symptoms. Only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the trains. “Further details including train schedule will be issued separately in due course,” the order said.

More special services will be started on new routes after May 12, the press release added. These special services will be based on the available coaches after reserving 20,000 coaches for coronavirus care centres, the government said. Consideration will also be provided to the 300 Shramik Special trains to run every day to ferry stranded migrant labourers to their hometowns.

Shramik Special trains

Goyal said earlier on Sunday that the Railways is geared up to run up to 300 “Shramik Special” trains per day to take migrants from their place of work to their hometowns, over the last six days. He added that the Railways had so far run 366 Shramik Special trains with over 3,60,000 migrant workers. Goyal said 287 trains have already reached their destinations, while 79 are in transit.

“I appeal to all the states to give permission to evacuate and bring back their stranded migrants so that we can get all of them back to their homes in the next 3-4 days itself,” the railway minister said in another tweet.

The Centre had on April 29 first announced that “Shramik Special” trains would be started to ferry migrant workers back home.

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