Low occupancy and fear of travel amid the Coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the future of the Tejas Express. The Indian Railway Catering And Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has decided to suspend the services of both Mumbai-Ahmedabad Tejas Express and the Lucknow-Delhi from November 24 and 23 respectively till further notice.
This comes a week after the IRCTC had decided to increase occupancy of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Tejas Express by introducing a tour package between Mumbai and Vadodara-Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Last week, the railway authorities had already announced trip cancellation on select Tuesdays in the current fiscal due to low patronage.
“The management has decided to cancel all departures of IRCTC Tejas trains due to low occupancy levels resulting from coronavirus(Covid-19) pandemic,” a statement issued by the railway company said.
After remaining suspended for almost seven months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Tejas Express resumed operations from October 17. The occupancy of the train, which has 736 seats, was at just 25 to 40 per cent as against 50-80% before the outbreak.
Officials said the company will review its decision after seeing the occupancy level of other trains of Indian Railways operating in both these routes.
The Lucknow-Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express was started by the IRCTC on October 4, 2019, and the Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Ahmedabad on January 19 this year. However, the trains were not operating since March 19 this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
IRCTC, a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, is the first corporate entity to run the Tejas Express services.
The entity had released guidelines for how these trains were to function-- every alternate seat on the two trains will be kept vacant to ensure social distancing and passengers will be thermally screened before entering the coach and not allowed to exchange their seats once seated -- the guidelines said.