Covid-19 forces nationwide passenger railway and metro shutdown till March 31
Indian Railways, which carries 23 million passengers on an average every day to their destinations, issued an advisory on Saturday to those under home quarantine to not travel by trains after at least 12 cases emerged of passengers flouting self-quarantine norms.Updated: Mar 23, 2020, 06:40 IST
All passenger train services and metro services stand suspended across the country till March 31, the government said on Sunday, widening curbs in an unprecedented lockdown prompted by the fast-spreading, deadly Covid-19 contagion that has killed at least six and infected 324 people in India.
Passenger train services were already curbed on Sunday in view of the Janata Curfew (people’s curfew) call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who asked citizens to stay at home between 7am and 9pm in a televised address last Thursday. Sunday’s order has extended the curbs till the end of the month.
The decision to suspend all passenger train services of the Indian Railways and the Konkan Railway, as well as suburban trains and trains of Metro Railway, Kolkata, was taken following a high-level meeting with the Railways Board, the Principal Secretary to the PM and the Cabinet Secretary on Sunday.
Freight trains carrying essential goods will, however, continue to ply.
“To make it more convenient for passengers, full refund for all cancelled trains may be taken till 21.06.2020. Adequate arrangements shall be made to facilitate hassle-free refund to passengers affected by train cancellations,” the ministry of railways said in a statement.
In a separate but related development, the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra informed managing directors of all metro train corporations that metro services will also be suspended till the end of the month.
“In view of the current global pandemic of this Coronavirus & for containing its further spread through inter-personal proximity, it has been decided to close down metro rail services on all operational networks across the country till 31 March 2020,” Mishra tweeted.
Indian Railways, which carries 23 million passengers on an average every day to their destinations, issued an advisory on Saturday to those under home quarantine to not travel by trains after at least 12 cases emerged of passengers flouting self-quarantine norms who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
The national carrier, which operates as many as 13,523 trains per day, had on Saturday announced that nearly 3,700 passenger and mail/express trains will be cancelled till 10pm on Sunday following Modi’s appeal.
The railways has begun contact tracing of passengers across all zones who could have come in contact with Covid-19 positive passengers. Railways has also fumigated and sanitised the coaches where these people travelled.
On March 21, West Bengal and Jharkhand asked the Indian Railways to cancel all trains entering the states till March 31. On March 19, Western Railway too had decided to cancel AC local services in Maharashtra, and replace them with non-AC suburban trains till March 31.
(With inputs from Risha Chitlangia)