Covid-19: Only 4 trains operate as Railways comes to standstill amid lockdown
According to data reviewed by HT, the railways has suffered losses worth Rs 1,421 crore this month till Monday.Updated: Mar 24, 2020 08:44 IST
The railways’ mammoth 166-year-old-network ferrying 22 million passengers across over 13, 000 trains daily came to a standstill on Monday with just four mail express trains running till noon following the Centre’s order for suspension of services in the wake of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The live monitoring on the railways’ dashboard showed the four trains running till 3 pm on Monday that had originated on Sunday. By 10 pm, the dashboard displayed zero passenger or mail express trains operating for the first time in the national transporter’s history.
According to data reviewed by HT, the railways has suffered losses worth Rs 1,421 crore this month till Monday.
The Centre on Sunday ordered the suspension of all passenger train services till March 31, widening curbs in an unprecedented lockdown prompted by the fast-spreading and deadly Covid-19 contagion. Suburban railway services have also been stopped since Sunday. The railway ministry said no suburban trains will operate till March 31.
The railways on Monday said it will allow stranded passengers to stay in retiring rooms at railway stations till passenger trains remain suspended. This comes at a time when passengers have been rushing to the stations following the Centre’s order.
“It has been brought to notice that some passengers who were in retiring rooms and booked to travel by train after a day or two are facing problems as all trains are now cancelled and they have nowhere to go. The Railway Board has decided that in all such cases the stay may be extended in supersession of the rule that limits the number of days a passenger can stay in retiring rooms,” the ministry of railways said.
This relaxation shall be in force till normal train services resume.
The railway board has informed all station masters to implement this quickly for the benefit of stranded passengers, the ministry said.
A majority of the 1.3 million-strong railways’ workforce has also been asked to avoid going to work.
The maintenance staff at railway locomotive sheds, however, are still working “at bare minimum level as goods train loco needs attention”, the railway ministry said.
Passenger train services were restricted on Sunday in view of the Janta Curfew (people’s curfew) call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who asked citizens to stay at home to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The railways had earlier issued an immediate advisory to those under quarantine to not travel by train after the national carrier found at least 12 cases of passengers flouting self-quarantine norms who were subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.