Indian Railways has asked zonal railway and IRCTC to take necessary steps to open catering and vending units at stations, but said that food plazas and refreshment rooms will open only for takeaways, as per an order issues on Wednesday. Dine-in facilities will not be provided.
These vending units will include shops for selling packaged goods, essential items, chemist shops, bookstalls and others. These were closed in wake of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Zonal Railways and IRCTC are advised to take necessary action for opening of all Static Catering and Vending Units at Railway Stations with immediate effect. In case of Food Plaza and Refreshment Rooms, booked items may be served as takeaway only, with no sitdown eating arrangements in place," the order from the railway board said.
As per the order, the railway zones have been seeking necessary guidelines from the Board for opening of catering units at stations.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Indian Railways announced that it would run 200 special passenger trains, having non-air conditioned second class sleeper coaches, from June 1. The ticket booking of all these trains will start from 10 am on May 21, 2020. All passengers will be allowed to book online E-ticket through IRCTC website or through Mobile App. No tickets will be booked across the reservation counter on any Railway Station. Booking of tickets through 'agents', (both IRCTC Agents and Railway Agents) will not be permitted.
These trains will run daily in addition to the Shramik Special and the air-conditioned special trains which are presently being operated on the Rajdhani routes connecting 15 major cities to Delhi.
Other regular passenger services including all mail/express, passenger and suburban services will remain cancelled until further advice.
As on 20 May 2020 (till 10:00 hrs), a total of 1,773 "Shramik Special" trains have been operationalised from various states across the country. More than 23.5 lacs passengers have reached their home state by these trains. These 1773 trains were originated from various states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh UT, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Puducherry UT, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal.