Is Flight Cancellation Effective Against Covid-19?

Due to the recent increase in Covid-19 cases, many international and domestic flights have been cancelled by the respective State Governments. However, not all flights are cancelled, and the decisions taken at the highest level are quite blurred, which may do more harm than good. Though restrictions in localities and cities are working quite well the flight cancellations are neither feasible to stop passengers from reaching their destination, nor can prevent the community herd of a potential third wave.

Omicron cases are rising fast in Mumbai and Delhi. Amid rising cases, some states in India have imposed flight restrictions directly from these two cities. Taking another metropolis, Kolkata as an example, the flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Kolkata have been banned on all days but Monday and Friday. This restriction, according to the Government of West Bengal, is effective in stopping any Omicron wave in Kolkata. International flights directly from the UK, a hotspot of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, have also been suspended some days back.

The first loophole in the system is how flights operating on Monday and Friday can prevent any third wave in Kolkata, while those on the other days cannot. The mandatory quarantine, or tracing of passengers through the Air Subidha app, can be imposed on the travellers. Moreover, the cancellation was announced hours before the flight schedule, causing panic among passengers, leaving them without an option to travel to their destination.

The second, and possibly the biggest loophole lies in the fact that all express trains from Mumbai and Delhi to Kolkata are running, and there are options for bus travel as well. Most importantly, the travellers in trains or buses do not require any vaccination certificate or a negative RT-PCR test before travel. The travellers by flight need to undergo an RT-PCR test upon arrival in Kolkata, and after 8 days of arrival will need to do another RT-PCR test. If both tests turn negative, the travellers still need to spend 14 days in home isolation. No such restrictions are in place for other means of transportation.

The most controversial part is the third loophole, where the travellers from UK, Mumbai, and Delhi are allowed to come to Kolkata via another city. For example, a traveller, instead of coming directly from Mumbai can travel to Ahmedabad and then take a flight to Kolkata, or in the case of Delhi, can arrive via Lucknow. The Government openly declares that UK, Mumbai and Delhi passengers can come via other cities, without undergoing any severe restrictions.

Bhubaneswar and Jharsuguda airports have not applied such controversial restrictions, and have simply made the RT-PCR test mandatory for all arrivals at the airports. Though Covid-19 can still leak out, it is quite a safe and hassle-free measure for all passengers. However, the most urgent thing required now is wearing masks in the public and frequent sanitisation, which is somehow missing from everywhere across India. The good news among all these is that vaccination of children in 15-18 years have kick-started and this hopes to bring down the severity of infection in the children.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Economy 3AC Coaches in Indian Railways

Indian Railways have now started producing Economy AC 3-tier coaches in the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. Under the new interior design, the number of seats will increase per coach from 72 to 83. This will result in an increased number of passengers boarding the same train. The question is, will it not reduce the leg space, or will it bring comfort to the boarding passengers. Read this article to know more.

AC 3-tier is the most profitable coach type for Indian Railways when it comes to revenue from passenger traffic. Hence, Indian Railways is giving no stone unturned to explore new ways of providing passenger comfort, and giving greater chances to occupy a 3AC seat. Over the years, modern LHB coaches have provided more seats in a train than older ICF coaches. Railway engineers have found out a major flaw in AC rakes on which they have started modification. This new economy 3AC class is a result of correcting the design flaw.

3AC Interior Bunks

AC coaches require switch gears, transformers and other electrical devices which eat up a lot of space inside the coaches. Engineers have now planted these devices under the coaches, suspending them from the bottom of the coaches between the bogies. It freed up enough space for the addition of another 11 seats in AC 3-tier coaches. This will not compromise on the leg or luggage space previously available to the passengers. The same formula can be applied to AC 2-tier coaches, chair car and AC First Class coaches, which may increase their capacity. For a trial, this has been applied only to 3AC coaches as these are the most profitable coaches of Indian Railways attracting a lot of passengers, who want to put a lot of expenses, and at the same time get good facilities as well.

Moreover, no extra profit will be earned by the Railways, as the prices of Economy 3AC coaches will reduce by 8% of normal 3AC coaches. The reduction in fare of 3AC coaches will attract more passengers who previously travelled in only the non-AC sleeper class. In the long term, the loss-prone non-AC sleeper and second seating class will be completely replaced by profitable AC coaches, be it chair car or sleeper. The economic coaches, being new, will have modern amenities like personal reading lights, personal AC outlet, personal charging socket, which are essential requirements to most passengers.

3AC COach Toilet

Will all these attract more people to take the train to their travel destinations? The initial results of revamping rail coaches with modern facilities have been a success. The Prayagraj-Jaipur express is the first train to get Economy 3AC coaches in view of demand. 2 more trains, New Delhi-Lucknow AC special and Lucknow Mail, will be allotted Economy 3AC coaches very soon. So plan your next ride in an Economy 3AC coach with a flushed interior and reduced price to your next travel destination.

Written by – Himadri Paul