Coronavirus update: Indian Railways cancels all passenger trains till March 31

Updated on Mar 22, 2020 02:28 PM IST

The order issued by the ministry of railways states goods trains will continue to run to ensure essential while some “bare minimum” suburban rail services will also continue.

A passenger wearing a protective mask rides a train in Mumbai.(Bloomberg)
A passenger wearing a protective mask rides a train in Mumbai.(Bloomberg)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAnisha Dutta

The Indian Railways said on Sunday all passengers trains across the country will not run till March 31 extending its initial order of cancelling trains only on March 22 for the Janta Curfew as the number of Covid-19 patients rose to 341 in India.

The order issued by the ministry of railways said goods trains will continue to run to ensure essential services and that all suburban trains services, including those on the Central and Western Railway, will also be stopped till March 31.

“All originating long-distance mail/Express and Intercity trains (including premium trains) and all originating passenger trains shall remain cancelled till 2400 hours of 31.03.2020,” it said in a circular.

“As advised earlier, suburban trains and trains of Metro Railway, Kolkata shall be continued at bare minimum level until 2400 hours of 22.03.2020. Thereafter, all suburban trains and trains of Metro Railway, Kolkata shall be totally cancelled from 2400 hours of 22.03.2020 to 2400 hours of 31.03.2020,” it added.

The decision was taken following a high-level meeting with the members of the Railway Board and the cabinet secretary on Sunday.

Two more Covid-19-linked deaths were also reported—one in Bihar and the other in Mumbai—taking the total number of deaths to six across the country so far.

The move comes a day after two state governments—West Bengal and Jharkhand ordered to ban entry of all train till March 31.

Before this, the railways issued an advisory to those under quarantine to not travel by trains after the national transporter found at least 12 passengers flouting self-quarantine norms and subsequently testing positive for Sar-Cov-2.

“Railways has found some cases of Coronavirus infected passengers in trains which makes train travel risky. Please avoid train travel as you may also get infected if your co-passenger has Coronavirus. Please postpone all journeys and keep yourself and your loved ones safe,” the ministry of railways said in its advisory issued Saturday.

Two more passengers were deboarded from the Mumbai to Delhi Rajdhani on Saturday evening. Officials of the railways ministry said the passengers were returning from Dubai and asked to get down at Surat after their quarantine stamps were identified.

Railways began contact tracing of passengers across all zones who could have come in contact with these infected passengers.

Among the first such cases were eight passengers who travelled on the AP Sampark Kranti Express from Delhi to Ramagundam in Telangana on March 13. Railways said that they tested positive on Friday.

Also on Friday, four passengers who travelled on the Godan Express from Mumbai to Jabalpur on March 16 tested positive.

“We have begun contact tracing of all passengers (who may have come in contact with them). These four travelled to India from Dubai last week. They were travelling in coach B1 and all passengers are being contacted. We are tracing them through the registered details for their tickets and are taking the help of state authorities” a railway ministry official said.

Railways has also fumigated and sanitised the coaches where these people travelled.

The railways had on Friday announced that nearly 3700 passenger and mail express trains would be cancelled on Sunday till 10pm following the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a people’s curfew.

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