Mumbai’s local train services, considered the lifeline of the city, will be effectively shut down on Sunday in the wake of ‘Janata Curfew’ called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Only the government personnel engaged in the provision of essential services would be allowed to travel by local trains on Sunday, a restriction which will continue throughout the next week.
Konkan divisional commissioner said on Saturday night that the decision was taken in a bid to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
The restriction came into effect from midnight of Sunday, March 22.
More than 75 lakh people commute everyday by using these Mumbai lifeline local trains which stop at more than 125 stations which will be safeguarded by police and other security officers.
Only government officials involved in the provision of essential services and those who need urgent medical aid would be allowed to travel, said the release by divisional commissioner Shivaji Daund.
Personnel will be asked to produce their id-cards before they are allowed to board the trains.
Those who are travelling by local train to reach railway terminus for boarding a long-distance train will also be allowed on inspection of their journey tickets, the press release by the railway official said.
The decision was taken as the people did not stop travelling on trains despite repeated calls of social distancing. Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope had earlier said that the government would be compelled to shut down the local train services and other modes of public transport if crowds did not thin.
Maharashtra has recorded 64 cases of coronavirus so far, including 19 in Mumbai, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 315 on Saturday.
The Indian Railways has also grounded over 3700 trains on Sunday as the country observes ‘Janata Curfew’ on the call of Prime Minister Modi.
The Prime Minister on Thursday called for a ‘Janata curfew’ from 7 am to 9 pm on March 22, saying no citizen, barring those in essential services, should get out of their houses. The experience will serve the nation well and will show India’s readiness to take on the coronavirus challenge, he said.
“This Sunday, that is on March 22, all citizens must follow this curfew from 7 am until 9 pm. During this curfew, we shall neither leave our homes, nor get onto the streets and refrain from roaming about in our societies or areas. Only those associated with emergency and essential services leave their homes,” Modi said during his address to the nation.
The move was aimed at creating awareness about “social distancing” which is a powerful weapon in the fight against coronavirus.
Railways said on Friday said that no passenger train will originate from any railway station in the country from midnight to 10 pm on Sunday. Mail and express trains will also stop services from 4 am to 10 pm on Sunday while all suburban train services will be reduced to a bare minimum as well, the ministry said.
Only the trains that would have already started before 00:00 hours on Sunday will be allowed to complete their trip. Trains that are scheduled to run after 10 pm on Sunday will be allowed to start their journey.
“The Indian Railways has suspended train services of over 3,700 passenger locomotives and long-distance mail and express trains, which were scheduled to start their journeys on Sunday due to call of `Janata Curfew`,” the ministry said.
This is the first time in the 167 years of Indian Railways’ history that these many passenger trains will stay grounded for any reason.
On Saturday, Railways issued an appeal asking people to postpone all train journeys. This came after 12 passengers who travelled on trains this month tested positive for coronavirus.
“Railways has found some cases of Coronavirus infected passengers in trains which makes train travel risky. Avoid train travel as you may also get infected if your co-passenger has Coronavirus. Postpone all journeys and keep yourself and your loved ones safe,” Railways said.