Railways To Stop Special Trains, Revert To Pre-Covid Prices

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The Railway Board in a letter to the zonal railways on Friday said trains will now be operated with their regular numbers and fares will revert back to normal pre-Covid prices.

The Railways on Friday issued an order to stop the ‘special’ tag for mail and express trains under pressure from passengers over hike in fares. Ticket prices will revert back to pre-pandemic ones with immediate effect, the order stated.

Since the pandemic-induced lockdown restrictions were eased, the Railways has been running only special trains. First, it started with long-distance trains and now even the short-distance ones are were being run as special trains with “slightly higher fares” discourages people from avoidable travels.

The Railway Board in a letter to the zonal railways on Friday said trains will now be operated with their regular numbers and fares will revert back to normal pre-Covid prices.

Notably, the ticket prices of special trains and holiday special trains are marginally higher.

As per the extant guidelines, “In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, all regular mail/express trains were being operated as MSPC (mail/express special) and HSP (holiday special). It has now been decided that the MSPC and HSP train services, included in the Working Time Table, 2021, shall be operated with regular numbers and with fares as applicable for the concerned classes of travel and type of train”.

The November 12 order stated, “This issues with the concurrence of Passenger Marketing Directorate of Railway Board”. However, the order did not specify when the zonal railways are required to revert to the pre-Covid regular services.

A senior official said, “The zonal railways have been instructed. While the order is with immediate effect, the process will take a day or two”. Another official added, “With this, more than 1,700 trains will be restored in the next few days. The first digit will now not be zero as was in the case of special trains”.

However, the officials said that the curbs introduced in light of Covid such as temporary restrictions on concessions, bedrolls, and meal services would continue to stay in effect.

The Railways’ revenue has also grown substantially with the operation of special trains and no concessions. It registered an increase of 113 percent in earnings from the passenger segment during the second quarter of 2021-2022 as compared to the first.

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