The Indian Railways on Thursday said it would refund all tickets booked for regular trains between July 1 and August 12 as coronavirus cases in the country surged a month after the government started relaxing some of the restrictions imposed in March. Only special trains announced in May and June will run, the railways said.

Piyush Goyal chaired Railway Ministry has announced that all regular time-tabled passenger trains of Indian Railways have been canceled till 12 August 2020. These canceled passenger train services are those for which the IRCTC ticket booking was open up to April 14, 2020. In an important clarification, Indian Railways has assured passengers that the 200 IRCTC special trains and the IRCTC Special Rajdhani-style train services that were started from June 1 and May 12 respectively will remain operational.

IRCTC will grant a full refund to those who have booked their train tickets for the regular passenger train journeys scheduled to have commenced between 1 July 2020 to 12 August 2020. Passengers do not have to file for online ticket cancellations. According to IRCTC, once the trains are canceled at the back end, the online IRCTC e-ticket booking system automatically processes the full refund to passengers.

Recently, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav had announced that to meet any demand, Indian Railways may introduce more IRCTC Special passenger train services.

While Indian Railways has decided to cancel all time-tabled regular train services till August 12, this does not mean that the national transporter will not resume regular services till that time. Any decision in that regard would be taken in due course of time.

Earlier this month, the railways had increased the number of special passenger trains running in the country from 30 to over 200. These include 15 pairs of trains running on the Rajdhani routes since May 12 and 100 pairs operating since June 1.

With coronavirus cases continuing to rise and the uncertainty over when normal services will resume, officials said they wanted to refund all tickets booked for regular trains. Before the lockdown, the Railways operated around 12,000 trains every day, transporting 2 crore people.

The Railways has also run more than 4,000 Shramik Special trains since May 1 to ferry migrant workers back to their home states. Apart from these, the entire passenger services had been unoperational. However, it continued to run its freight and parcel services.

Under the rules issued by the Home Ministry for travel, all passengers are required to undergo thermal screening and only those found asymptomatic will be allowed to board the train.

Onboard the trains, all passengers were asked to maintain social distancing and wear face masks throughout the journey. All passengers are also advised to use hand sanitizers.

No catering, bed linen, blankets, or curtains will be provided inside the train. Passengers are advised to carry their own bedsheets if they need them. Temperatures inside AC coaches shall be suitably regulated for this purpose.