New Delhi: In a first, Indian Railways’ will run 40 ‘clone’ or duplicate trains on high-demand routes from September 21. The advance reservation period for such trains will be 10 days.

Such trains will be in addition to the 310 special trains which are already in operation. These trains will be run one or two hours ahead of the departure of already operating special trains. However, the travel time and the stoppages will be limited to operational halts.

Running duplicate trains will not only ensure availability of on-demand trains for passengers, but will also help the national transporter boost revenue at a time when the passenger segment earning taken a beating due to the outbreak of covid-19.

“Considering the huge demand for travel on specific routes, Ministry of Railways has decided to run 20 pairs of Clone Special trains from 21.09.2020. These clone trains will run on notified timings and will be fully reserved trains. The stoppages shall be limited to operational halts," the railway ministry said in a statement. “We have been monitoring occupancy all trains. Where we feel that the occupancy has increased and more waitlist is for over 10 days, for those trains, we will run clone or duplicate trains. These trains will run ahead of existing trains, so that for the particular train, waitlist is not there," railway board chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav had said on September 5.

“The clone trains will be primarily 3AC trains and run ahead of the already operating special trains. Operation of clone trains will be widely publicized for the benefit of prospective passengers. The routes are being finalized," railway ministry spokesperson DJ Narain said.

A senior government official had told Mint that this is an opportune time to introduce these duplicate trains as the national transporter will now have more clarity on the exact demand, based on which it can offer productive routes for these trains. “It is better to run trains on routes where there is more demand, than keeping the assets idle. We tried to implement this earlier, but not enough path was available," the official had told Mint.

Indian railways had suspended all passenger trains services due to the imposition of a nationwide lockdown from March 25. However, it resumed services in a staggered manner. While 230 special trains have been operational for over three months, the national transported introduced another 80 special trains from September 12. The additional trains were announced keeping in mind the covid-19 situation, and also to allow reverse migration of workers to urban areas for work, with the country entering into Unlock 4.0.

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