In a big relief for passengers, Indian Railways opens its reservation counters at select stations for booking of only reserved tickets from today, nearly two months after they were shut due to the coronavirus lockdown. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also said an announcement on the resumption of more trains will be made soon.
It said it will also allow reservation of reserved tickets from common service centres (CSC) and through ticketing agents with effect from today. The zonal railways have been instructed to decide and notify opening of reservation counters according to local needs and conditions, the order stated.
These booking counters, as well as the CSCs, were shut since March 25 when a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus began. On Thursday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said booking of train tickets will resume at around 1.7 lakh CSCs across the country from tomorrow (Friday), making the service accessible to those in remote locations where the availability of computers and internet is negligible or absent.
“We have to take India towards normalcy,” he said.
The railways said the reservation counters will open from Friday in a phased manner along with dissemination of information about their respective locations and timings as per the local needs and conditions.
“It may be noted that running of Shramik Special trains will continue to be handled by local state governments as per the existing protocols. The opening of these booking facilities will significantly reduce the burden on passengers, many of whom depend on counter tickets to travel,” it said.
The zonal railways should adhere to standard social distancing guidelines and observe the hygiene protocols in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the board said in its order.
At present, passengers can only book tickets for 15 pairs of special trains running on the Rajdhani route and 100 pairs of special trains that are scheduled to begin operations from June 1.
As of now, tickets for these trains can only be booked online through the IRCTC portal.