COVID-19 impact on Indian Railways services: Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has taken the unprecedented and important decision to cancel all train services across its vast network till March 31, in view of the Coronavirus outbreak.
COVID-19 impact on Indian Railways services: Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has taken the unprecedented and important decision to cancel all train services across its vast network till March 31 end, in view of the Coronavirus outbreak. All trains, except freight trains, stand cancelled till March 31. This includes Mail/Express trains, Konkan railway, premium trains, passenger trains – everything! Only bare minimum services of Kolkata Metro and suburban trains will continue till 2400 hours today. Thereafter all Kolkata Metro and suburban train services will also remain cancelled till the end of March 31.
In a big relief for passengers, the refund for all these cancelled trains can be availed till June 21. The Indian Railways trains which have already commenced their journey before 4:00 AM today will run-up to their destinations.
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This comes after some passengers with self-quarantine stamps were deboarded from several trains. Additionally, some passengers travelling on various trains of Indian Railways have tested positive for the COVID-19, raising fears of the possibility of community transmission through the railway network. Indian Railways has already issued an advisory to people to undertake a train journey only if absolutely necessary.
Indian Railways, as part of the Janta curfew announced by PM Narendra Modi, has shut its services from midnight to 10:00 PM today. This has resulted in over 3,000 trains being cancelled. Zonal railways have been given the discretion to run trains with high occupancy, as they deem fit.
Indian Railways has been deep cleaning its trains across zones, with all major surfaces of public contact such as seats, doors, railings etc being rigorously sanitised in trains and at railway stations. The national transporter has already withdrawn the provision for blankets in AC coaches since it is difficult to wash them after every train-run. The curtains in AC coaches have also been removed.
Across the railway network, multiple zones have raised the price of platform tickets from Rs 10/- to Rs 50/- at major stations with high footfall. This has been done to avoid overcrowding on railway platforms. Indian Railways has also relaxed the refund rules for train tickets booked from PRS counters, extending the time period till refund can be claimed to June.
Reports suggest that with multiple trains being cancelled because of Coronavirus, Indian Railways is already staring at an earnings loss of over Rs 400 crore. With today’s decision, the earnings would take a further hit. “We are doing this for social good, it is the need of the hour,” railway officials told Financial Express Online.