Pakistan Railways will suspend the services of all passenger trains across the country from Tuesday midnight to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The passenger train operations will remain suspended from March 24 midnight till March 31, a notification issued by the railway ministry reads.
“Passengers who have advanced booking on suspended trains will be accommodated in other trains of their choice on priority once the train service is resumed,” the notification reads. If passengers want, they can get the full refund of their tickets after the resumption of the operations.
Earlier in the day, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed had said that the Pakistan Railways is likely to close down all trains across the country by Tuesday midnight.
The minister said that after all the trains on route reach their destinations, the service will be closed down. “An official statement will be passed after approval from the prime minister today,” he said on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Tuesday.
“We had previously closed 40 trains, if we had shut down the service of all 108 trains, it would have had resulted in chaos,” Rasheed said. A decision regarding freight and cargo trains will also have to be taken, whether they will operate or close down, he said.
It is important because otherwise, people will come on the tracks which can be dangerous. “The problem is not Punjab, but lies in Sindh because people from here are going back to their villages,” Rasheed said.
“And all these people are from lower-income groups travelling from the economy class,” he noted. “Our foremost priority is to let most of these people reach home because if trains are stopped midway it will create problems for these people.”
Rasheed added that an official notification regarding the decision will be released by 5pm today.