Passengers travelling on trains without masks or not following social distancing in railway premises may now need to pay fine or even face jail terms as per new guidelines that seek to protect the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming festive season.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has issued detailed guidelines for travellers asking them to desist from acts such as not wearing a mask or wearing a mask improperly, not maintaining social distancing, coming to railway area or station or boarding a train after having declared COVID positive or when results are awaited.
In addition, activities which may create unclean or unhygienic conditions or affect public health and safety in railway stations and trains, “spitting or wilful ejection of body fluid/waste in public area” or any other act or omission likely to aid in spread of the virus have been deemed unlawful.
“Since these acts or omissions are likely to aid in the spread of coronavirus, they will tantamount to interference with passenger amenities provided by the railway administration, wilful omission or neglect endangering or causing to be endangered the safety of any person or rash and negligent act or omission likely to endanger the safety of any person travelling or being upon any railway may be punished with imprisonment and/or fine under section 145, 153 and 154 of Railway Act 1989,” the RPF said.
While the punishment under Section 145, which deals with intoxication or nuisance, is imprisonment which may extend to six months and a fine of up to ₹500, Section 153 — that deals with unlawful act or endangering safety of passengers, has provision for up to five years of imprisonment.
Under Section 154 of the Act, any person, who endangers safety of other passengers due to rash and negligent act, can be punished with imprisonment of up to one year, or with fine, or with both.
The announcement comes as the Railways gears to run 392 festival specials between October 20 and November 30. These will be in addition to about 300 trains that it is operating.