Indian Railways is likely to restore its passenger train services to pre-pandemic levels over the next two months, provided the state governments give their approval and the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. Also, these train services are likely to be only special trains and not regular services. At present, 66% of train services are operational, albeit as special trains, according to sources quoted in a PTI report. The special trains that are being run by the national transporter have marginally higher fares, do not offer concessions except in certain categories and operate as fully reserved train services. Since the COVID-19 lockdown was announced last year in March, all regular passenger services remain suspended but special train services were started in a phased manner since May 2020.
As of now, 77% of express, mail trains are in service, 91% of suburban trains are running while only 20% of passenger trains are currently on rail tracks. A railway official was quoted in the report saying that over the next two months, the national transporter would like to reach the pre-Covid pandemic level of services with its special train services. However, this depends on approval from states as well as the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said.
The pre-pandemic average of Indian Railways’ express, mail trains was 1,768 per day, now it is 1,353 per day. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as 3,634 passenger trains were daily running, but only 740 are in service per day at present. While pre-Covid times, 5,881 suburban/local trains were in operation per day, and now, as many as 5,381 trains are on track. According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday, India recorded its highest daily rise in novel coronavirus cases this year with as many as 72,330 new infections being reported in a span of 24 hours, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,22,21,665.