NEW DELHI (Metro Rail News): Railways on Saturday started operating an additional 80 (40 pairs) of trains across the country. The list includes India’s first semi-high speed train Vande Bharat Express which started operating between New Delhi and Varanasi after a gap of more than 170 days.
Indian Railways suspended the operations of Vande Bharat Express on 23 March after a nationwide lockdown was imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country. The second Vande Bharat Express train which operates between New Delhi and Katra, however, remains suspended. As of now, Indian Railways have started the New Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express which will operate five days in a week except on Monday and Thursday.
However, on the first day of its operation, the premium train saw a low occupancy rate with just 2% passengers booking tickets on this train. “This is just day one. Many trains are weekly, bi-weekly and so on. Reservation for those trains is expected to pick up as we get closer to those days,” said one official. The train will be numbered 02435 which will leave Varanasi at 3 pm for New Delhi and 02436 will leave New Delhi at 6 am for Varanasi.
With the railways stating that they have introduced special trains in areas where there is more demand and tickets are being waitlisted, only three among the 80 have managed to garner even 50 per cent occupancy on the first day of booking, according to the data.
It is significant to note that when the railways announced that bookings were open for the 15 pairs of trains running on the Rajdhani routes since May 12 and 100 pairs operating since June 1 — the tickets were all booked within a few hours.
Earlier, at a media briefing, the railway board chairman VK Yadav said, “Eighty new special trains or 40 pair of trains will start operating from September 12. Reservations will begin from September 10. These will run in addition to the 230 trains already in operation.” Yadav said.
“Wherever there is a demand for a particular train, wherever the waiting list is long, we will run a clone train ahead of the actual train, so that passengers can travel,” he added.