Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a “janata curfew” on March 22, the Indian Railways has decided that no passenger train will originate from any railway station in the country from midnight to 10 p.m. on March 22. In addition, no mail, express or intercity trains originating between 4 a.m. and 10 p.m. will operate on March 22.
In its directive, the Indian Railways stated that the demand for rail travel would be “vastly reduced during the Janata Curfew” and asked all Zonal Railways to regulate all trains, including suburban railway networks.
However, the Railways clarified, “Wherever long distance trains and intercity trains have huge occupancy, Zonal Railways may at their discretion decide to not cancel such trains and run them as per schedule/revised schedule so that large numbers of passengers do not get stranded on 22.03.20.”
It also directed Zonal Railways to keep a close watch on the situation at major railway stations, and where needed order special trains to clear the rush of passengers who may be stranded at stations despite advance public notice.
The move will impact about 2,400 passenger trains and approximately 1,300 long-distance mail/express, and intercity trains. As per the order, such train services that are already running at 7 a.m. on March 22 will be allowed to reach their destination.
The Railways stated that suburban services in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Secunderabad will be reduced to “bare minimum levels” only to cater to essential travel requirement, keeping in view that March 22 falls on a Sunday.
“Passengers alighting at en route stations from trains already on run and desirous of staying at the station may be accommodated in the waiting halls, waiting rooms and concourse without creating overcrowding conditions. Provision of drinking water, refreshments (on payment) shall be arranged to cater to these needs of such passengers,” the Indian Railways said.
Further, the order instructed that adequate arrangements may be made to facilitate hassle-free refund to passengers affected by train cancellations.
No food services
Separately, the IRCTC on March 20 said that “as a precaution to prevent spread of COVID-19 ”, it had been decided that its food plazas, refreshment rooms, Jan Aahar outlets and cell kitchen units will be closed “until further advice”.
Additionally, the on-board catering services in mail/express trains will be closed. “If there is demand, then only PAD items, tea and coffee, may be allowed to be sold in the train. Such operations should be conducted using the minimum number of staff,” the IRCTC said. ‘PAD’ items include biscuits, confectioneries, fruit drinks, aerated drinks and chips.