IRCTC said Wednesday it will restart the first set of "private" Tejas Express trains from October 17, seven months after the Lucknow-New Delhi and Ahmedabad-Mumbai services were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. It said every alternate seat on the two trains will be kept vacant to ensure social distancing and passengers will be thermally screened before entering the coach and not allowed to exchange their seats once seated.
It also said passengers will be provided a "Covid-19 protection kit". It will contain a bottle of hand sanitizers, one mask, one face shield and one pair of gloves.
The coach, including the pantry areas and lavatories, will be disinfected at regular intervals. The luggage and baggage of the passengers will also be disinfected by a staff.
"Use of face covers/masks will be mandatory for passengers and staff. All travellers will install Arogya Setu app and same shall be shown as and when demanded. Detailed instructions will be given to the passengers at the time of booking of tickets," IRCTC said, outlining the SOP to be followed during the initial period because of the pandemic.
The two Tejas Express services are the first set of trains run by a corporate entity, IRCTC, a subsidiary of the Indian Railways. The third IRCTC-operated train, the Kashi Mahakal Express between Indore and Varanasi will however not begin its services yet.
The Railways has announced it would allow private operators to run 150 trains.
The Tejas trains were suspended on March 19 and will now run from October 17.
"On getting approval from the Ministry of Railways to again start the operation of the two popular corporate trains, IRCTC is making all-round preparations to ensure that the trains once started to match the expectation of the people in terms of levels of services and safety and health protocols amidst the ongoing pandemic," the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited said in a statement.
Both the Tejas trains have been received very well by passengers for their quality of services and punctuality. IRCTC, by offering to compensate travellers for late running of the trains, ensured the trains are properly monitored and run on time.
The facilities will be available to passengers after the restart of the two services, the PSU said.
"IRCTC has conducted an extensive training programme to educate and train its team of employees of Tejas Trains to manage the operations of the trains and provide services according to the 'New Normal' amidst COVID-19 pandemic and to follow the Standard Operating Procedure ensuring passengers safety," it said.
IRCTC started the Lucknow-Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express on October 4, 2019, and the Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Ahmedabad on January 19 this year.
(With PTI inputs)