Ticket bookings to open at physical facilities across country: Rail Min

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Shramik Special trains has run 2,050 such trains, ferrying around 30 lakh passengers   

NEW DELHI, May 21 (AGENCIES): Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said booking of train tickets will resume at around 1.7 lakh common service centres across the country from Friday, making the service accessible to those in remote locations where the availability of computers and internet is negligible or absent. The minister said bookings will also resume at counters at specific railway stations over the next two to three days.

“We have to take India towards normalcy. We are developing a protocol to identify the stations where counters can be opened. We have to ensure that there are no large crowds gathering at counters to book tickets, so we are studying the situation and devising a protocol towards it,” Goyal said.

“We will also soon announce the resumption of more trains,” he further said during a conversation with his party colleague and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.

He said the railways which started the Shramik Special trains from May 1 has run 2,050 such trains since then, ferrying around 30 lakh migrants, students and other stranded people.

Goyal also praised Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani for their cooperation with the railways in running the Shramik Special trains and criticised West Bengal and Jharkhand for their non-cooperation.

He said till date the railways has been able to run only 27 trains in West Bengal and till May 8-May 9, only two trains could reach there. Jharkhand has allowed only 96 trains while Rajasthan has so far received 35 trains, he said.

“Even if we asked for permission to run the train, the Home Minister wrote a letter, even after that a list of 8 trains was received (by West Bengal),” the railway minister said. “I expect all states to allow their people to come to their homes and help us reach them by driving trains.”

Crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for conceptualising the railways’ isolation coaches for coronavirus patients, Goyal said the PM had called him to suggest if these coaches can be converted. Railways so far has converted around 5,000 coaches into Covid-care centres which will be deployed at 225 stations.

He said the railways has also started bookings for the 100 pairs of special trains with both air conditioned and non-air conditioned services which will begin operations from June 1.

He also said within 2.5 hours of opening bookings for the 100 pairs of special trains on Thursday, four lakh passengers had booked tickets. People have also started reverse bookings to come back to work, he said.

“About 5 million people worldwide are affected by coronavirus, but in India it is still close to 1 lakh, ie, 2%, while our population is 17% of the total population of the world,” he said.

Goyal, who is also the commerce and industry minister, said the Rs 20 lakh crore package “will make the country stronger and enable the MSMEs and other businesses to grow”.

“PM’s call for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ will ensure that quality products are produced in India on a large scale, India’s requirements are fulfilled and the surplus production is exported. Through this, India will become a global power,” he said.

Goyal pointed out that 12 sectors have been identified in which not only will India be self-reliant but can also lead the global supply chain. These sectors include food processing, organic farming produce, iron, aluminium and copper, furniture, coveralls, masks, sanitisers, ventilators and others.

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