In a dramatic development, the Indian railway board has decided to cancel all regular mail, express and passenger services and suburban trains from 1 July till 12 August. The development comes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic assuming alarming proportions in India despite a prolonged period of nationwide lockdown.
With more than five lakh positive cases and nearly 15,000 deaths, India is fast moving towards becoming the worst-hit COVID-19 country in the world. Quoting sources, news agency PTI reported that the Indian Railways’ decision to cancel train services starting 1 July was in view of a growing number of coronavirus cases in the country.
The report, however, added that all special trains including 12 pairs running on the Rajdhani routes since 12 May and 100 pairs operating since 1 June to transport stranded migrant workers will continue.
All tickets booked for regular time-tabled trains for journey between July 1 and August 12 stand cancelled: Railway Board
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) June 25, 2020
“All tickets booked for the regular time-tabled trains for journey date from 01.07.20 to 12.08.20 also stand cancelled. Full refund will be generated,” the Railway Board order stated.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced one of the harshest lockdowns in the world by imposing strictest restrictions on people’s movement with just a four-hour notice. Both Modi and his supporters in the media had claimed that this was necessary to ‘flatten the curve.’ However, the number of positive cases and COVID-19 deaths have continued to spiral since the government announced the lockdown on 24 March this year.
The lockdown has had a catastrophic effect on the country’s economy. The International Monetary Fund has projected a -4.5% economic growth for India in the financial year 2021.