ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Railways on Tuesday announced that all passenger train services would be suspended till March 31 to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.
Taking effect from midnight, all passenger trains will remain suspended owing to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, while cargo trains will continue to function according to their schedule.
Passengers who have already booked seats will be accommodated in trains of their choice when the services resume, according to a statement issued by the Pakistan Railways.
In case tickets are unavailable, they will receive a full refund.
The move to suspend the services came after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s approval.
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Earlier in the day, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid told the media that the suspension of all passenger train services was on the cards but the final decision would be made by the prime minister.
He added that he had recommended to the prime minister to give a relief package to the railways and continue paying salaries of its employees while the services remained suspended.
On Saturday, the minister had announced the suspension of 42 trains by April 1 to restrict the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The minister said trains would be suspended in phases, adding that the notification of the suspension would remain in effect till the first half of the holy month of Ramazan.
The trains suspended in the first and second phases included Khushhal Express, Akber Express, Sindh Express, Ravi Express, Shah Latif Express and Rohri Express. Jinnah Express, Bolan Express, Moinjo Daro Express, Thal Express, Marvi Express, Samman Shakir Express, Faisalabad Express, Musa Pak Express and Chenab Express.
The Pakistan Railways operates 142 trains on its 1,885-km-long tracks to ferry some 700 million passengers every year, which means that some 200,000 people travel by trains every day. However, because of the coronavirus spread, the number had declined.
“Due to the current situation the number has declined to 165,000 passengers per day,” the minister said.
(With input from APP)