Updated: March 21, 2020 6:54:35 am
In an extraordinary decision, Indian Railways announced Friday that it would stop its services across the country from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday during the Janata Curfew called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It, however, clarified that if long-distance and inter-city trains have good occupancy figures (since long-distance trains are booked in advance), the zonal railways may decide to run them. Officials said zonal general managers will assess the final situation Saturday.
The Railway Board, in its order to zonal general managers, said all passenger trains (about 2,400), will remain cancelled from Saturday midnight to 10 pm Sunday. About 1,300 mail express trains will also not run from 4 am Sunday.
Local train services will be reduced to minimum in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Secunderabad.
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The zonal railways have been asked to take a call on how many trains to run. Railway officials said the demand is relatively low on Sundays.
As a disincentive to travelling, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been asked to suspend operations in its food plazas, refreshment rooms, jan ahaar and cell kitchens.
No food will be served on ordinary mail/express trains. However, food will continue to be served on trains where the ticket price includes the food component.
Railways has asked catering contractors to “take care of the staff on humanitarian grounds” during the time of closure.
The zonal general managers have been instructed to run special trains if there is crowding of stranded passengers at stations, “despite advance public notice”.
Sources said the decision, approved by the Prime Minister’s Office, is meant to aid the Janata Curfew.
So far, Railways has cancelled about 300 trains due to low occupancy and to discourage people from travelling. When trains are cancelled, the entire ticket amount is refunded without deducting the cancellation fee.
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