Traveling by public transport feels different now; don’t you feel the same? Earlier I would simply pack my bags and spontaneously leave for my solo travel, now I make sure to plan my trip well in advance and take all necessary precautions. Earlier we all could travel as we want, eat where ever we wished to, we didn’t wear masks or care to sanitize our hands and belongings every few hours. I don’t know whether I’m adjusting well to this so-called “new normal”, it doesn’t feel normal to me yet. I always say change is good, except for this pandemic change, its slightly scary and a bit annoying.
Did you start traveling by public transport after the lock-down restrictions eased a bit? Well, if you are planning your train journey anytime soon amidst this pandemic, do give this blog a read.
I last traveled on 30th November 2020 by Konkan railway, and honestly, Train travel is still the same, everything right from ticket booking to train journey is pretty much hassle-free, there are just a certain added set of rules and regulations. And for our own safety, we must take a few precautions while traveling. At the beginning of 2020, I was a bit hesitant by the thought of resuming travel for the coming year or two, but as the lock-down restrictions eased I decided to resume traveling, and as mentioned in the earlier blog I shifted to a new town. As a travel blogger, I waited for a long time before I resumed traveling and I believe the wait was worth it.
Compared to pre-covid-19-time trains aren’t crowded like they used to be; Indian railways have decided not to run trains in full capacity to maintain physical distancing.
Tickets can be booked online on IRCTC (official Indian railway portal), keeping the current situation in mind, the second/final chart is prepared half an hour before a journey, in case of changed plans, you can cancel your ticket a few hours beforehand. Temperature checks are done at the entry point of the station. Trains are on time; hardly a few minutes late.
The cleaning staff on board frequently sanitize the train, everyone right from the ticket checker, attendants, cleaners, pantry staff wear their masks. I found the train I was traveling by much cleaner, every two hours all coaches were cleaned and disinfected. No bedsheets and curtains are provided in Ac coaches to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Only ready to eat packaged food is provided, the pantry isn’t fully functional, wearing a mask is compulsory inside the station and also after boarding the train (So Basic right? Yet you will see few people without masks, it’s like the pandemic doesn’t exist for them), and even though the trains were frequently disinfected passengers boarding on different stations sanitized their own seats and births. (Good on hygiene level, but the strong sanitizer scent gave me a bad headache).
Another important thing to note while traveling by train is to download Aarogya Setu app before commencing your train journey. To register on Aarogya Setu you need to have an Indian mobile number, i.e., a network provided by an Indian mobile operator. Your mobile must-have Android Version 5 & above and iOS version 10.3 & above. This app uses contact tracing to record details of all the people you may have come in contact with, as you go about your normal activities. If any one of them, at a later point in time, tests positive for COVID-19, you are immediately informed and proactive medical intervention is arranged for you. Aarogya Setu app also helps Government identify Covid-19 hotspot locations. (Arogya Setu app is not mandatory, yet it is advisable to download it)
Different states have different rules on arrival, few regarding compulsory quarantine, few regarding Rapid antigen tests on arriving from certain states. Make sure you enquire about the guidelines of the particular state you are traveling to; or if you have any other query regarding your train travel you can write a tweet to @railwayseva or @irctcofficial, they will address your query immediately.
If you have already read my blogs you probably know I love train journeys, Best part about my train journey is the natural beauty I witness outside the moving train, nature never fails to amaze me, during this particular journey the view of bright green landscapes and river basins reminded me that everything around me is okay. I stared aimlessly at the green paddy fields, everything felt normal and extremely peaceful, I felt good about resuming my travel. I understand, we need some time to get used to Covid-19 travel restrictions and precautions, but looking at the nature around me in full bloom made me feel grateful and happy to be alive.
I didn’t order food in the train this time, carried my own food for the journey. I wish I could sip on some masala chai and enjoy sunset just like old times, argh! I miss sitting in train and watching sunsets and drinking chai a bit too much. The tea vendors screaming chaiiiiiiiiii, is a pleasant sound if you love train journeys just like me. (for others its just noise, I’m grinning)
The Government of India, healthcare providers, frontline warriors are on their toes since the beginning of this pandemic, as law-abiding citizens of India now it is our duty to obey rules and regulations after stepping out of our home in these difficult times.
If you are planning to travel anytime soon, I have only five suggestions for you, five suggestions that will help you have a safe journey,
Make sure you have No symptoms while commencing travel, Check! Wear a Mask at all times, Check! Carry a Sanitizer, Check! Carry a Valid ticket, Check! Carry your own food, Check!
I request you not to travel if you have any flu-like symptoms.
We all are going through a rough phase, and we shall come out of this phase stronger than ever. I don’t know how long it takes before we get used to this new normal, till then, let’s all live in the present moment, let’s try to see something good even in these testing times, and wait patiently for this situation to get better.
So, my lovely wildflowers if you travel by train anytime soon, do tag me in your Instagram stories, mention @thebrownwildflower in your story. Take all necessary precautions and travel safely.
NOTE: Travel safe, don’t touch your face or your surroundings unnecessarily, sanitize your hands frequently, don’t litter in the train or on the railway tracks, wear your masks, and if you see anyone without a mask, do request them to cover their nose and mouth with a mask. Dispose of your masks in bins, don’t throw them around. In case of emergency please contact railway, helplines numbers are written at the entrance of your coach.