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Times of India
10 Aug 2011
By, Manthan K Mehta
Mumbai , India

Railway travel may change forever for India’s elderly. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) may make it mandatory for every traveller above 70 years of age to have a companion for the package tours it conducts. If you are in the 60-70 age group, you may compulsorily have to travel with a medical certificate from your physician that says you are fit for the journey and are carrying all medicines that you may require during any emergency.

Faced with several instances of the elderly falling ill during its package tours, the IRCTC plans to introduce these rules for package tours originating from the West zone. Nearly 12,000 passengers avail of various package tours conducted by the IRCTC’s West zone every year.

There have been instances of six people dying on tours in the past. Many also fall ill or their existing medical condition worsens during the journey.

Virendra Singh, group general manager, IRCTC, West zone, said, “We do not want to discourage senior citizens from travelling in our tours. But we want to ensure that those who are unfit do not travel.”

Among the measures under consideration is to insist that passengers above 60 years should give a medical declaration that they are fit to undertake this journey. They should also declare that they are carrying all medicines that will last till the completion of the journey.

The undertaking will have to be approved by a doctor, besides explicitly declaring that IRCTC should not be held responsible for his/her health.

The IRCTC is also trying to get doctors on board for its Bharat Darshan and Bharat Tirth package tours by offering them free travel and complimentary passes for a companion. These doctors will not be charged a single penny. They will have to attend to any commuter who takes ill during the journey.

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