Many media outlets, through unnamed sources, published reports that Indian Railways has announced a new set of rules and guidelines for traveling after the lockdown ends. The alleged protocol announced by the Indian Railways as stated by Jagran English is as follows:
- The passengers may be asked to reach the Railway stations at least four hours ahead of the scheduled departure of their train. This will be done keeping in mind the additional safety protocols, including thermal screening and other methods to screen passengers boarding trains.
- Only non-AC coaches may be made available to contain the spread of disease as coronavirus is believed to have greater potential for transmission in an air-conditioned environment.
- Only passengers with reserved tickets may be allowed to enter the platforms. The Railway is likely to stop selling platform tickets to prevent overcrowding at stations.
- “Once the services are resumed, we are thinking of requesting passengers to wear masks as per the health ministry advisory. We are also thinking of using the Arogya app to check the health and wellness of patients and allow only healthy passengers to board trains,” an official was quoted by PTI as saying.
- Passengers may be required to inform the Railways of their health status, via the Aarogya app, at least 12 hours before their travel. If a traveler is found with symptoms of COVID-19, he will be deboarded and forced to abandon his journey.
- Face masks and hand gloves may be provided to every passenger against a small fee.
- Passengers may have to pass through a special tunnel for disinfection ahead of boarding the train.
- The side berth in sleeper coaches may be kept vacant and only two passengers may be allowed in a cabin of six berths, in compliance with the social distancing norms.
- Most trains are likely to operate non-stop between originating and destination stations.
- Passengers aged over 60 years may not be allowed to travel as they are more vulnerable to get infected from the virus.
The Indian Railways network which is the world’s fourth-largest rail operator recently announced shutting its services in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in India. Millions of commuters are stranded as no mode of transportation is functional as the Indian government had announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020. Those stranded in other states or cities are now trying to know when will the Indian Railways start functioning again and here come the TRP/Link click targets of Indian media outlets. As we began fact-checking this claim, we first checked the official website of the Indian Railways to check if the said information is true or not but we didn’t find any such information there.
We then checked the official Twitter handle of the Ministry of Railways as the handle is continuously posting the latest updates. We found a tweet made by the handle which reads, “Ministry of Railways has not issued any protocol regarding passenger travel during post lockdown period, as has been incorrectly reported in some media reports.
As and when a decision is taken, all stakeholders would be intimated. Please do not be guided by any misleading report.”
As it is evident from the aforementioned tweet that the Ministry of Railways has refuted the announcement of any such protocol, we further tried to know about the source of the claim. We couldn’t trace the origin of this claim as most of the media reports were either updated or deleted permanently, though we found more claims to add to the list.
Using the advanced search feature on Twitter, we tried to collect additional information on the issue. We found multiple clarifications made by government agencies and several zones of Indian Railway. Some of the important clarifications are listed below.
Denial posted by the Central Railway can be viewed below.
Denial posted by the South Central Railway can be viewed below.
Denial posted by All India Radio News can be viewed below.
Denial posted by ROB Chandigarh can be viewed below.
Denial posted by PIB in Rajasthan can be viewed below.
Additionally, the same claim has been debunked by the fact-checking arm of the Press Information Bureau as well.
As it is evident from the aforementioned findings that the Indian Railways has not announced any protocol or set of rules and regulations. Hence, the claim that the Indian Railways is planning to resume operations with a protocol is ‘False’.
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