Updated: May 7, 2021 7:20:49 am
WITH THE number of reserved train passengers falling to just five lakh a day from around 20 lakh a day a month ago, Railways at various zones on Thursday discontinued several regular trains, especially long-distance ones, till further notice in light of surge in Covid cases and also because of low occupancy.
In Delhi, Northern Railway cancelled 28 trains, to and from the Capital, including Rajdhanis to Chennai and Bilaspur, a Shatabdi to Chandigarh, Kathgodam, Kalka; Duronto to Jammu and the like. Zones like Central, Southern and other others did the same and will continuously rationalise the number of trains they are running, based on latest position of demand, officials said.
The Central Railways has cancelled 23 passenger trains. These include Nagpur-Kolhapur special up to June 29, the CSMT-Kolhapur special up to July 1, the CSMT-Pune special up to June 30.
The assessment in the ministry is that people are just not travelling long distance enough to continue running the low-patronage trains.
Sources said several states have also written to the Railways to discontinue the unreserved category trains, such as the MEMUs and DEMUs running inter-city, which the zones have been asked to do. Based on a request from West Bengal, suburban services were suspended in view of the Covid surge.
However, top officials told The Indian Express that this is not to be viewed as a precursor to suspending train operations. “Since occupancy is low, people are just not travelling, it is decided to temporarily discontinue a number of trains with low occupancy looking at the latest position of bookings,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.
The ministry said this was a regular exercise. “Cancellation and restoration is an annual dynamic process…. Some regular trains with lower occupancies are discontinued while some Specials with sustained demand are made permanent. Cancellation of some trains in present times should also be seen only in that context,” a Railway ministry spokesman said.
Sources said that there is so far no plan to suspend long-distance train operations.
Key officials said routes on which the regular trains have been discontinued for the time being do have other trains to cater to any passenger wanting to travel. Ministry officials The Indian Express spoke to maintained that trains will continue to run as per demand. “Routes like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh from Delhi continue to have trains including additional special trains,” said a senior Northern Railway official.
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