Indian Railways on Saturday (12th September 2020) last week, started operating India’s first semi-high speed train Vande Bharat Express 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 a railway official.
The train will be numbered 02435 which will leave Varanasi at 3pm for New Delhi and 02436 will leave New Delhi at 6am 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.
“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 said.
The key factor in deciding the 80 new trains was the fact that there were many stations from where the migrant workers are going back to their workplace, Yadav said.