The Election Commission has barred the railways from publicising its new timetables and introducing new trains for poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
A letter received by the ministry from the EC last week states that while the railways can go ahead with publishing the new timetables — ‘Trains at a Glance’, and making it operational as planned on November 1, “no publicity shall be made in this regard”.
Railway sources had earlier said that as many as 700 trains could see alterations in the new schedules because of changes in departure/arrival timings, enhanced speed and various other adjustments made by the transport behemoth in an effort to cut down travel time of long-distance trains.
Many express trains have been made superfast as a result of which train numbers have been changed, which could create confusion among passengers.
As of now, the railways has not been able to publicise these particular changes to inform the public, the sources said.
Each zonal railway is ready with its own timetable, but is wary of publicising them because of the EC letter, the sources said.
The railways also has a slew of new trains that would benefit several states, officials said.
According to the EC letter, no new trains in these two states can be introduced or formally inaugurated till the model code of conduct is in place.
Himachal Pradesh goes to polls on November 9, while the Assembly polls in Gujarat will be held in two phases on November 14 and November 20.
“If passengers are having problems, the railway ministry is free to write to us again and we will review the matter,” a senior EC functionary said.