From October 10 onwards, railway seats or train tickets will be available even five minutes before the train leaves the station, as the Indian Railways has decided to restore the pre-COVID system of preparing the second reservation chart half an hour before the departure time. Regular passenger train services remain suspended in wake of the pandemic. But the Indian Railways in a staggered manner is restoring the pre-COVID practices and is also running special trains.

Here is all you need to know about the new changes:

1. The second reservation charts will be prepared 30 minutes before the scheduled departure of trains from stations. This was normal before COVID. But when the Indian Railways started special passenger trains amid the pandemic, the second reservation chart was being prepared two hours before the scheduled departure.

2. Train tickets can be booked until the second reservation chart is prepared. As of tomorrow, these charts will be prepared between 30 minutes to 5 minutes before the scheduled departure, tickets can be booked during this time.

3. The first chart is prepared at least four hours before the scheduled departure of the train. If seats become vacant owing to cancellation, they can be booked through PRS counters and online till the preparation of the second chart.

4. Tickets can also be canceled during this time, as per the provisions of the refund rules.

5. The timings were changed during the pandemic as initially, tickets were only available online. The Railways was avoiding crowding at the stations and the aim was to discourage people from traveling unless absolutely necessary.

6. In the last few months, the situation has changed. The Centre has been focussing more on reopening instead of locking down. The Railways has started several new trains as well. With the festive season coming, the Railways have already announced 39 pairs of new special trains. It has not yet announced a date for these special trains but they will be operational between October 15 and November 30.

However, today is the 199th day since India implemented a nationwide lockdown, to help curb the novel coronavirus pandemic. So far, India has recorded 68,35,655 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 1,05,526 deaths. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka have reported the highest number of cases. However, infections are rising rapidly in states like Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. Yet, India’s recovery rate continues to rise and now stands at 85.25 percent. ‘Unlock 5.0’ is underway. Globally, there have been over 3.6 crores confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 10.54 lakh people have died so far.