- In continuation of the measures taken in the wake of COVID-19, Indian Railways has decided that all passenger train services on Indian Railways shall be cancelled till31st March.
- To ensure the essential supplies in various parts of the country, movement of goods trains will continue.
- However, bare minimum level of services of suburban trains and Kolkata Metro Rail shall continue upto 2400hrs of 22.03.2020.
- Trains which had already commenced their journey, prior to 0400 hrs of 22.03.2020, will run up to their destinations.
- Adequate arrangements shall be made for the passengers, who have commenced their journey during the travel and at their destinations.
Why this step was necessary?
- Many metropolitan cities have shut down non essential businesses and services.
- With cities under lockdown, the economic prospects of Daily-wage labourers look bleak.
- Students and staff from various educational institutions are also returning home.
- The Maharashtra government’s measures to shut down non-essential businesses in Mumbai to ensure social distancing for preventing coronavirus epidemic seems to have caused overcrowding on trains bound for North India.
- Central Railway on Friday rolled out 12 special long-distance trains from Mumbai and Pune to various destinations in Bihar, West Bengal and UP.
The Italian example
- On March 8, when 7,375 people had already tested positive for coronavirus and 366 had died, Italian PM announced the extraordinary step of restricting movement for about a quarter of the Italian population in the northern regions that serve as the country’s economic engine.
- Most Italians were still confused about the severity of the restrictions.
- To clarify the issue, the interior ministry issued “auto-certification” forms that would allow people to travel in and out of the locked-down area for work, health or “other” necessities.
- A draft of the decree, leaked to Italian media a day ahead , pushed many Milan residents to rush to the train station in crowds and attempt to leave the region, causing what many later considered a dangerous wave of contagion toward the south.
- Some regional governors independently ordered people coming from the newly locked-down area to self quarantine. Others didn’t.
South Italy is preparing for the worst
- Thousands of people who fled south after Lombardy, was quarantined on 8 March.
- The entire country was put under lockdown on 9 March and rules were tightened on 11 March.
- Hospitals in Italy’s central and southern regions are bracing themselves as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases grows daily.
Lessons from the failure of Italy
- Italy’s piecemeal attempts to cut it off — isolating towns first, then regions, then shutting down the country in an intentionally porous lockdown — always lagged behind the virus’s lethal trajectory.