As train travel in a few sectors resume from today, there are a few restrictions and guidelines imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that are to be strictly followed.
For a start, the railways have allowed only 15 pairs of trains that will start plying and all of these will be AC classes.
In terms of bookings, they are allowed to be made upto 7 days in advance with no Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC) or waitlisted tickets. Only passengers with confirmed e-tickets will be allowed to travel.
The concept of platform tickets will not be entertained in order to minimize the number of people present at the railway station. There will also be a proper health check at the station’s entry where people will be screened and anyone showing symptoms of influenza like illness will not be allowed to enter.
Hand sanitisers will be issued at both entry and exit, as well as coaches and wearing of face masks will be compulsory. Among these changes, a major one includes the reporting time.
From now on, passengers will be required to reach at least 90 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the train as said by Indian Railways. This is to ensure that all the health screening and necessary checks are in place before the train is scheduled to depart.
Additionally, necessary social distancing, of minimum 6 feet, will need to be maintained during boarding and travel. This means not just long queues but also possibly fewer passengers per coach.
Similarly, for air travel, the civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri told Outlook magazine last week that domestic air travel could start before May 15th. Certain airlines like Air Vistara have already issued guidelines for reducing contact between their crew and passengers by up to 80%.
This will mean no inflight meal service or reading material. Going forward, travelling certainly won’t look the same as it did before and we have to be prepared for more such alterations to our lifestyle which will have to become the new normal.