Looking to start afresh amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tejas Express trains - run by IRCTC - were expected to provide passengers the joy and assurance of a premium train journey keeping the hygiene obstacles out of the way.
But, less than a month after it resumed services, IRCTC has stopped the Tejas Express services citing low occupancy levels.
The company started the Lucknow-Delhi and the Ahmedabad-Mumbai services on October 4, 2019 and January 19, 2020, respectively.
IRCTC has said the 'decision may be reviewed after seeing the occupancy of Indian Railways in these sectors in the future'.
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Before resumption of services, IRCTC had chalked out a detailed plan of serving passengers even as the threat of COVID-19 was looming large. A training programme was conducted to educate and train the staff to manage the train operations and provide services.
After train services were resumed, Tejas Express became the first train to serve cooked food.
IRCTC had also assured that coaches, including the pantry areas and lavatories, will be disinfected at regular intervals.
Although it was expected that people will not be too eager to travel now, the discontinuation of services this soon has come as a surprise.
Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and angel investor, feels that the timing of resumption of services was odd as the COVID-19 situation is far from under control.
"The timing of the resumption was a little odd. But since occupancy levels were low, it is understandable why IRCTC was forced to stop the services. Travel for a lot of people is now at a lower ebb and I wish they had timed the resumption of services a little better. Once the COVID-19 threat is gone, I think the service will find takers," he told Moneycontrol.
The impact of the move could result in further shift of passengers to airlines and roadways as passengers gravitate to safer options.
Nishant Pitti, the chief executive and co-founder of EaseMyTrip. com, said that the airlines would continue to hold an edge over the premium trains of Railways due to travelling conditions changing considerably since the coronavirus outbreak.
"The pricing of Tejas Express is equivalent to flight ticket prices. The airlines will benefit as the passengers who were looking forward to relishing the charm of a train journey will be forced to travel by airlines. People will always prefer a flight nowadays due to the COVID-19 threat and this trend is going to stay for some time," he told Moneycontrol.
Having ushered in a new travel experience for train passengers, the Tejas Express service faces a predicament which no one could have predicted when it was launched.