New Delhi: In the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for a 'janata curfew' on Sunday amid the novel coronavirus scare, the Indian Railways said on Friday that all passenger trains will remain cancelled during the period.
All long-distance mail or express and intercity trains originating between 4am and 10pm on March 22 will also remain cancelled.
A circular addressed to all zonal railways said: "Keeping in view the fact that the demand for rail travel will be vastly reduced during the janata curfew between 7 am and 9 pm on Sunday, zonal railways are hereby advised to regulate services. All passenger trains originating between March 21-22 midnight to 10 pm on March 22 shall not run. However, passenger train already on the go at 7 am on that day will be allowed to reach their destinations."
The decision was taken by the Railway Board after a meeting with General Managers of zonal railways to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in India.
On Friday, 25 fresh cases were recorded in India, taking the total affected persons to 223. At least four persons have died, with one death each in Punjab, Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka.
The circular said that railway divisions should keep a watch and empty trains could be terminated short of their final destinations, if required.
The railways said that approximately 1,300 mail or express trains will remain cancelled on March 22.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged people to opt for a 'janata curfew' on Sunday from 7am to 9pm.
The railways said that suburban services in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Secundrabad shall be reduced to bare minimum only to cater to essential travel requirements.
The zonal railways authorities, as per the assessment of local conditions and requirements, will decide on the number of services.
The railways has till now cancelled over 245 pairs of trains amid the coronavirus crisis across the country.
No onboard catering services
The IRCTC has ordered the closure of all onboard catering services in mail or express trains from March 22 until further notice in view of the coronavirus outbreak, according to an order from the railway subsidiary on Friday.
The Indian Railway Catering and Toursim Corporation (IRCTC) has also decided to close all food plazas, refreshment rooms, Jan Aahars and cell kitchens until further notice.
"Food plazas, refreshment rooms, Jan Aahars and cell kitchens should be closed until further advice.
"The static units supplying meals to prepaid trains which are in operation may continue to operate. The onboard catering services in mail express trains and TSV trains should be closed until further advice," the order stated.
It also said that if there is a demand of onboard services then only propriety article depot (PAD) items, tea and coffee may be allowed to be sold in trains.
"Such operation should be conducted using minimum number of staff. The licensee should be requested to take care of their catering staff on humanitarian grounds during this period of closure.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)