Coronavirus outbreak: For first time in history, Mumbai's lifeline will be completely snapped

Updated: Mar 23, 2020, 06:57 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Besides Mumbai locals, all Indian Railway trains, barring those ferrying goods, to also stall till March 31, virtually bringing the nation to a standstill

At Ghatkopar station on the day of Janata Curfew
At Ghatkopar station on the day of Janata Curfew

In a bid to step up its fight against the deadly Coronavirus, the Indian Railways has decided to completely shut down Mumbai's lifeline — the local trains — from March 22 midnight for the next eight days. However, goods trains will be allowed to operate as usual to ensure the supply of essential services.

An official notification from the Indian Railways said, "In continuation of the measures taken in the wake of COVID-19, it has been decided that all passenger train services on Indian Railways, including premium trains, mail/express trains, passenger trains, suburban trains, Kolkata Metro rail, Konkan Railway etc shall be cancelled till midnight of March 31." This includes the suburban network of Mumbai as well.

A cop on duty at the Ghatkopar railway station
A cop on duty at the Ghatkopar railway station

The notification further states that the trains which had already commenced their journey prior to 4 am March 22, would be allowed to reach their destinations.

Adequate arrangements would be made for the passengers during the travel and at their destinations as well. It further said that to ensure supply of essential services across the country, movement of goods trains would continue.

A deserted CSMT
A deserted CSMT

Further, for the convenience of passengers, full refund of tickets of all cancelled trains might be taken till June 21, 2020. Adequate arrangements would be made to facilitate hassle-free refund to passengers affected by train cancellations.

BEST buses
BEST and MSRTC buses would operate and have been given the responsibility to ferry essential service sector workers.

Cops speak to a commuter who seems to be unaware of the Janata Curfew
Cops speak to a commuter who seems to be unaware of the Janata Curfew

No clarity on autos/taxis
There is no clarity on the directives given to auto and taxi unions though around 50 per cent of the drivers have left for their native homes. "No directive has been issued regarding autos so far and they will continue to operate normally. Only share auto trips have been banned so far," Mumbai Automen Union leader Shashank Sharad Rao told mid-day. Mumbai Taximen Union leader, Anthony Quadros said taxis were already suffering and the business was down as not many drivers were available. Maharashtra transport minister, Anil Parab is expected to make a statement regarding the same on Monday.

First time in history
This is the first time in the history of Indian Railways that the suburban local trains are shutting down completely for eight days. According to the Railway archives, "Earlier instances of closure and limitations include the 1896 plague in Bombay, the 1944 Bombay Dock Explosion, the 1974 railway strike and terror and bomb attacks and monsoon interruptions. But never has the Railways been completely down. During the 1896 plaque and 1944 dock explosion, a similar exodus had happened."

RPF staff alerted
The Danapur station authorities in Patna have alerted the RPF about four trains, packed with passengers, arriving urban hubs including Mumbai and Pune. They might be carrying some suspected COVID-19 positive patients. The local authorities are now trying to find out their track record.

Ticket cancellations
As per information, all the UTS and PRS counters will remain closed till March 31. There would be no booking of tickets nor ticket refunds during the period. Passengers can, however, claim refund of e-tickets online through the IRCTC website. There shall be no booking of fresh parcel traffic during the period. Railways have relaxed the refund rules for tickets and its period considering the situation and convenience of passengers till June 21, 2020.

June 21
Day till when refund of cancelled long-distance train tickets will be given

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