Special trains are run every year to handle the burgeoning traffic during festive occasions and peak seasons. This year, owing to COVID pandemic and Nation-wide lockdown, the services of Special trains in Southern Railway commenced from 1st of June, 2020 only and were extended in a graded manner. These trains were run between important destinations and on popular routes following the request made by the State Governments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Initially, intra-district and intra-state special trains were operated facilitating essential travel needs. Later, inter-state special trains were introduced in a phased manner for the benefit of passengers.
On date, a total of 103 Special train services have been notified for operation in Southern Railway. Of this, 76 trains services are being operated as COVID Special trains and 27 festival special services have been announced to meet the demands of the oncoming festive season.
There has been significant increase in the patronage of the Special trains run by Southern Railway. In the month of October 2020, the COVID specials have registered 74% occupancy rate benefitting 19.56 lakh passengers. The occupancy rate in festival specials is gradually picking up and the average occupancy is 57% with over 1.10 lakh passengers having booked for travel by these trains till the end of October month. The number of trains running with 100% occupancy is also on the rise.
Southern Railway operates intra-zonal special trains to south bound destinations such as Tiruchchirappalli, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Nagercoil, Kanniyakumari and also connecting Coimbatore, Palakkad, Mangalore and Thiruvananthapuram from Chennai. Besides, festival special trains are run from major rail hubs in Southern Railway such as DR.MGR Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore, Madurai, Tiruchchirapalli, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, Rameswaram, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam Jn, Kanniyakumari to important destinations such as Bangalore, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Howrah, Gaya, Bhubaneswar, Bikaner and Gorakhpur, to mention a few.
Southern Railway has taken several steps to ensure safe travel for passengers adhering to all the safety protocols laid down by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. only those with confirmed tickets are allowed to travel. Thermal screening of passengers is done at the entry points. In addition to this, several modifications have been made in the temperature settings and air-circulation in AC coaches to ensure safe journey. Issue of bed rolls has been discontinued and curtains have been removed in all AC coaches. on long distance trains, only Ready-to-eat food is available for sale and no cooked food is being served.
Cleaning and Sanitization of coaches is accorded top priority. As part of primary and secondary maintenance at coaching depots, after cleaning of coaches, proper disinfection of the entire coach covering the floor and panels is properly carried out. The areas frequently touched by passengers such as doors, handles, latches, taps and toilets are regularly disinfected. Trains that are having platform turn around also undergo comprehensive cleaning of coach interiors and sanitization of toilets and of areas frequently touched by passengers such as doors, handles, latches and taps before they depart for its next service.
Southern Railway reiterates its commitment to serve passengers better ensuring safe journeys in these pandemic times.
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