85 trains cancelled as coronavirus precautionary measure


Delhi: The Indian Railways has cancelled 85 trains, including long-haul as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus and due to low occupancy, officials said on Tuesday.

As another precautionary measure, railway zones like WR and CR have also increased the prices of their platform tickets to discourage large crowds.

Railways has also issued a set of guidelines to zonal railways for its catering staff stating no employee having fever, cough, runny nose or difficulty in breathing "should be deployed in the business of food handling on Indian Railways."

According to officials, central railways cancelled 23 trains, South Central Railways cancelled 29 trains, western railways cancelled 10 trains, South Eastern Railways cancelled 9 trains, east coast and northern railways cancelled 5 trains each, and North Western Railways cancelled 4 trains. The list includes some popular long haul trains.

"All staff of catering units should be directed to maintain personal hygiene as per the food safety norms/standards of FSSAI," the guidelines stated.

"All staff to wear a face mask and hand gloves, headgear etc while dealing with food production and services to passengers, staff be advised to wash their hands with soap frequently, avoid contact with people having cough or cold, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, hand gloves to be changed frequently and disposed off in closed dustbin," they added.

It also said that all supervisors deployed in catering establishments be directed to maintain personal hygiene and impart counselling to their subordinates in this regard.

"All staff deployed in food production and services should wash their uniforms on a daily basis and wear clean uniforms on duty, it said.

"Maintenance of proper cleanliness, use of disinfectant on frequently touched objects and surfaces like billing machine, POS machines, coffee machines, countertop, door handles, table, chair, fridge handles, stall frames by using a regular household cleaning spray like Lizol, Dettol, Colin etc," it said.

Adequate provision of hand soap and sanitisers at all catering units must be ensured and intensive/thorough cleaning of all catering units must be done on a daily basis.

The order stated that proper packaging of food items must be ensured and usage of loose items should be avoided as far as possible.

"Strict prohibition of entry of outsiders/unauthorised people in food dealing area should be ensured. All staff to pay proper attention to advisories/guidelines issued by the ministry of health, FSSAI and local health departments of central and state governments from time to time and ensure compliance thereof," the guidelines said.

Trains cancelled in Kerala

The following trains have been cancelled till March 31.

Passengere trains fully cancelled

56737/56738 Sengottai- Kollam- Sengottai 

56740/56739 Kollam- Punalur- Kollam

56744/56743 Kollam- Punalur- Kollam

56333/56334 Punalur- Kollam- Punalur

Railways hike platform ticket prices to discourage crowding at stations

All railway zones have been advised to hike the platform tickets from Rs 10 to Rs 50 in a bid to discourage gathering of large crowds, a senior official of railways said on Tuesday.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal held a high-level meeting to discuss the steps taken by the national transporter to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"In order to regulate unnecessary crowding at stations, as a temporary measure, all Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) are requested to raise platform ticket prices to Rs 50 at important stations (dealing large passengers/visitors rush).

"It is only a temporary increase. Prices can be restored when the situation permits," a senior official said here.

While the Western Railway and Central Railway were first off the block to announce the hike, most of the other railway zones followed suit.

The maximum rate of Rs 50 would be applicable at big stations, officials said with graded hikes at relatively smaller ones.

"#COVID19 preventive measures. Central Railway on its Mumbai, Pune, Bhusaval, and Solapur divisions increased the platform ticket from Rs 10 to Rs 50 till further advice," the Central Railway said on Twitter.

The Western Railway authorities also informed that they have hiked platform ticket rates up to Rs 50 and the highest rate will be applicable at big stations such as Mumbai Central.

Platform tickets over South Central Railway have been set at Rs 50 for all NSG (1 to 4 stations) and suburban stations. Both these categories have 84 stations. For NSG-5 and 6 stations, the price is being increased to Rs 20. This category has 499 stations. The stations have been clubbed into three groups i.e. Non-suburban (NSG), Suburban (SG) and Halt (HG).

NSG 1 stations usually record the highest footfall and revenue with NSG 6 stations recording minimum footfall.

During the meeting, Goyal also formed a response team comprising of executive directors from the Railway Board - consisting of ED passenger marketing, ED health planning and ED environment management among others to deal with COVID-19.

This team will coordinate all COVID-19 preparedness activities, monitor progress through an online dashboard and other forums, resolve issues of railway zones/PUs, issue advisories and media briefs and prepare a position for review meetings at various forums.

One nodal officer from each zone will serve as the point of contact for all COVID-19 preparedness measures and will be in constant touch with the COVID Response team of Railway Board.

An online monitoring system has been created to do real-time monitoring of the efforts across the country.

One lakh tickets of ECoR trains cancelled in 6 days

As many as one lakh train tickets were cancelled in the East Coast Railway jurisdiction in a span of only six days due to coronavirus scare, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The figure is 67 per cent more than the tickets cancelled during the same period last year, he said. Due to poor patronisation, at least five pairs of special trains in the zone have been cancelled.

"As an when required, the decision on cancellation of more trains will be taken," he said.

The Vishakhapatnam-Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam special will be cancelled from Vishakhapatnam on March 17, 24 and 31 and from Secunderabad on March 18, 25, and April 1.

The Vishakhapatnam-Tirupati Vishakhapatnam special will be cancelled from Vishakhapatnam on March 23 and 30 and from Tirupati on March 24 and 31.

The Sambalpur-Banaswadi-Sambalpur special train will be cancelled from Sambalpur on March 18 and 25 and from Banaswadi on March 19 and 26.

Bhubaneswar-Secunderabad-Bhubaneswar special will be cancelled from Bhubaneswar on March 19 and 26 and from Secunderabad on March 20 and 27.

Similarly, Puri-Santragachi-Puri special will be cancelled from Puri on March 20 and 27 and from Santragachi on March 21 and 28, 2020, the official said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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