New Delhi: The Indian Railways is unlikely to start regular operations until 30 June. The Ministry of Railways has cancelled “until further advice” all regular passenger train services.
The Shramik Special trains will continue to operate.
“…regular passenger service including Mail/Express, Passenger and Suburban services have been cancelled until further advice,” the ministry said in a letter dated 13 May.
The letter addressed to the principal chief commercial managers of all Zonal Railways said, “Competent Authority has desired that all the tickets booked for the above trains for the period up to 30th June 2020 may be cancelled and full refund generated…”
It added, “The Shramik Special trains and Special train services w.e.f. 12.05.2020 shall, however, continue to operate.”
More special trains could be run
The Wednesday order pertains to only old bookings for regular trains, a Railways official told ThePrint.
Passenger trains operating right now and Shramik Special trains will not be affected by the order, and there is a chance that more special trains are run, the official added.
However, given the situation at hand, it may not be possible to start regular services until 30 June, said the official.
The Indian Railways had to suspend all passenger services from 22 March as the country started taking broad measures to arrest the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on 24 March. Only goods trains have been plying since the lockdown was imposed, but with industries and manufacturing units shut, these too were running at 60 per cent of their capacity.
On 1 May, the Ministry of Home Affairs allowed Shramik Special trains to take lakhs of migrant workers stuck in various locations to their home states.
Subsequently, earlier this week, the Railways announced that it will gradually restart select passenger trains from 12 May.
Operations would initially start with just 15 pairs of trains (30 return journeys), and subsequently increased, the government had said in a statement. The special trains announced included trains from the New Delhi stations, connecting Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi.
The Centre’s decision to run passenger trains had received criticism from several states during the PM’s meeting with chief ministers earlier this week.
CMs of states such as Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal had urged PM Modi to not restart train services as planned from Tuesday, arguing that states and not the Centre should decide whether public transport should be allowed to run or not.