Janata Curfew: Handful commuters on roads, trains run empty in

Bengal Kolkata, Mar 22 (PTI) Few commuters took to the streets in West Bengal on 'Janata Curfew' day on Sunday announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in wake of the novel coronavirus spread in several parts of the country.

Skeletal train and bus services operated by the Railways and the West Bengal government respectively ran almost empty as most people chose to stay indoors.

An Eastern Railway official said that the number of passengers in the suburban trains was low, which are much lesser in number than normal Sunday services in its different divisions, including Howrah and Sealdah.

In South Eastern Railway, another zonal railway headquartered in the city, few suburban trains running on Sunday were almost devoid of any passenger, its spokesman Sanjay Ghosh said.

'The state transport undertakings in West Bengal are running some buses as per requirement,' state Transport commissioner A P Roy told PTI.

The Metro Railway ran near-empty trains as few passengers were available, an official said.

In view of the Janata curfew, the Eastern and South Eastern Railway cancelled all mail/express trains originating from the two zones from 4 am till midnight on Sunday, which has later been extended till March 31.

The Indian Railways on Sunday announced the cancellation of all passenger train services in the country till March 31 in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Both ER and SER ran some suburban services, while the Metro Railway also plied some trains on Sunday.

SER cancelled all passenger trains originating within its jurisdiction from Saturday midnight.

However, 32 EMU local trains in Howrah-Midnapur, Howrah-Amta, Panskur-Haldia and Panskura-Digha suburban sections were to be run as bare minimum essential services, according to SER spokesman Sanjay Ghosh.

Eastern Railway cancelled all mail/express and intercity trains from 4 am on Sunday.

According to an ER spokesman, 341 suburban trains in Howrah division and 500 local trains in Sealdah division were to be run on Sunday.

The Metro Railway was scheduled to run 54 trains on Sunday, instead of the normal 124 services, its spokesperson Indrani Banerjee said.

In the East West Metro, instead of 50 services, 34 services were to be run at 30-minute intervals, Banerjee said.

There will be no suburban train or Metro Railway services from midnight of Sunday till March 31, according to a PIB release.

Bus stations across the state wore a deserted look as few passengers turned up to avail of the services that were being operated.

While skeletal services were maintained by state transport undertakings, there were almost no private bus or taxis on the streets of Kolkata and other parts of the state.

The state government has also ordered a ban on inter- state buses to and from West Bengal from Sunday till March 31.

Departure and arrival of all interstate buses have been stopped from Sunday, West Bengal Transport secretary N S Nigam said.

'Interstate buses originating in the neighbouring states shall not be allowed to enter into the state of West Bengal with immediate effect till March 31,' a Transport department order said.

'Considering the emergent situation developing due to spread of Novel Coronavirus, all inter-state bus operations originating from this state shall remain suspended till March 31,' the order said. PTI AMR SBN SBN