Rlys suspends all passenger services from Mar 22 midnight to Mar 31 midnight

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) In an unprecedented move, the railways on Sunday announced suspension of all its 13,523 passenger services from March 22 midnight to March 31 midnight and said only goods trains will run during the said period amid concerns that coronavirus-infected passengers were spreading the virus further.

The suspensions also include all suburban train services.

The railways reported three incidents on Saturday, where people asked to remain in quarantine were found travelling on trains. Of those detected in the three instances, 12 tested positive for COVID-19.

The railways had already trimmed down its services on Friday by cancelling a majority of trains. However, it had allowed all trains that had already started the journey to continue.

'No train except goods trains will run till 2400 hrs of March 31. However, a bare minimum of suburban services and the Kolkata Metro Rail service will continue to run till 2400 hours of March 22. Thereafter, these services will also be stopped till 2400 hours of March 31,' a spokesperson of the Indian Railways said.

The national transporter said in continuation of the measures taken in view of the coronavirus outbreak, it was decided that all passenger train services, including premium trains, mail and express trains, passenger trains, suburban trains, Kolkata Metro Rail, Konkan Railway, will be cancelled till the midnight of March 31.

The trains that had already commenced their journey prior to 4 am on March 22 will run up to their respective destinations, the railways said, adding that adequate arrangements would be made for the passengers during the travel and at their destinations.

'To ensure the essential supplies in various parts of the country, movement of goods trains will continue,' the Railway Ministry said in a statement.

It added that passengers could claim a full refund for all trains cancelled in this period till June 21.

'Adequate arrangements shall be made to facilitate a hassle-free refund to the passengers affected by train cancellations,' the statement said.

The IRCTC, a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, also announced that while its onboard services in mail and express trains will be trimmed to packed food like chips, biscuits, tea and coffee, food plazas, refreshment rooms, Jan Aahars and cell kitchens would only allow take away.

The railways has also ordered closure of all rail museums, heritage galleries and heritage parks up to April 15 as a preventive measure to control the spread of the coronavirus.

'The railways has found some cases of coronavirus-infected passengers in trains, which makes train travel risky. Avoid train travel as you may also get infected if your co-passenger has coronavirus. Postpone all journeys and keep yourself and your family safe,' it said.

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus in the country rose to five on Sunday with the Union Health Ministry confirming the death of a second COVID-19 patient in Maharashtra. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has increased to 341 in India. PTI ASG DSP RC