Starting May 12, the Indian Railways will resume passenger train operations in a graded manner.
Passenger train services, including suburban trains, had been suspended following the prime minister's call for a nationwide lockdown on March 24.
The special trains will be run from New Delhi Station connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The Ministry of Railways has said that only 15 pairs of trains (30 return journeys) will be operational initially.
How to book tickets for these trains
One can book tickets for these trains on the official Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website. This can be done using an existing IRCTC account, while those without one can create the same.
The booking, which was earlier scheduled to begin at 4 pm on May 11, will now start at 6 pm, as per an alert on the IRCTC website.
Guidelines to be followed
All passengers have been advised to carry their own food, blankets, and bedsheets. The Indian Railways will not provide any linen, blankets, and curtains inside these trains.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had also issued a standard operating protocol (SOP) for people travelling by these trains. Social distancing norms, use of face covers, and masks are a must. The MHA order said that only those with confirmed e-tickets will be allowed to enter stations. All passengers are also required to reach the stations 90 minutes ahead of their scheduled boarding time.Follow our full coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here