India is a land of varied culture and one of the best ways to explore its beauty is by experiencing a train ride. As soon as you enter a train station, you are greeted by the site of multiple vendors selling their products, different types of trains entering and leaving the platforms, and people running back & forth to drop/receive their relatives. You can also catch glimpse of overcrowded trains with people sitting on the roofs, which only seem real in the media photos. Inside the train, you can sit on your reserved seat, which is inexpensive and safe for a journey around the country. To match the needs of modern times, trains in India are equipped with CCTV cameras, bio-toilets, and internet connectivity, ensuring the highest level of comfort to passengers. Though all this may excite you to hop on the train right away, much of the train travel experience has changed due to COVID.
With the COVID pandemic not willing to take a beating, Indian Railways had to come up with a certain set of rules to promote social distancing and keep a check on the spread of infection. Because of this, the glam and charm of the train journeys are not what they used to be. That means a ban on entry of hawkers selling food, fewer pit-stops in between to take a joy ride, etc. are the new normal. Even after knowing all this, if you have urgent travel plans and have chosen ‘Train’ as your medium for the ride, there are five things you need to do or know while booking your ticket.
Plan your travel ahead of time
COVID is not a hoax and shouldn’t be considered otherwise. If you wish to stay at a hotel in your chosen destination, you should scan through the COVID protocols followed by a bunch of them and go with the safest option. It’s also recommended to go for off-season dates (weekdays) to avoid mixing with the heavy crowd. Further, you should map the places you wish to visit and be prepared to tackle the infection like a champ.
No more ‘Unreserved Travel’ for you
To avoid overcrowded trains and minimise the spread of infection, trains no longer allow un-reserved travel. Reserved bookings are the only way to board the trains without security saying ‘No Entry’ to your face. So, make sure you have a confirmed train ticket to travel to your destination.
Go through the COVID protocols
To ensure the safety of its citizens and passengers, several state governments have updated their COVID protocols. For instance, the Tamil Nadu government has made it mandatory for train passengers from several Indian territories to register online a few days before coming to the state. You should check all the guidelines listed by your chosen destination to avoid breaking any rules and spoiling your journey.
Share your complete address
Earlier, there was no need to share your address details while booking train tickets. But now with COVID hovering over our heads, the risk of an outbreak/new red zone is quite imminent, even on trains. So, passengers have to provide their correct and complete address details to the Indian Railways so that they can trace them when needed.
Get your RT-PCR test done
As more and more COVID+ cases surround our country, Indian Railways have requested passengers to get their RT-PCR tests done within 72-96 hours of boarding the train, which guarantees that a person is safe to travel (after getting a negative result), without posing a health risk to other passengers. The listed timeline varies from one Indian state to another. It’s recommended that a passenger gets familiar with the rules laid by the chosen destination to avoid any trouble.
The COVID pandemic has indeed introduced a few roadblocks in the train travel industry. But as we try to overcome these and prepare for a post-COVID world, passengers have to carefully follow the rules laid down by the Indian government. So, whether you are travelling for work or pleasure, just make sure to remember the above five details while booking your train ticket to experience a safe journey ahead.