Railways looks after hundreds stranded due to lockdown

Source : IANS
Author : Anand Singh
Last Updated: Mon, Mar 23rd, 2020, 17:18:50hrs
Railways looks after hundreds stranded due to lockdown

New Delhi: Railway authorities came to the aid of hundreds of rail passengers stuck midway due to suspension of train services across the country during the 'Janata Curfew' on Sunday, arranging for their board and lodging and even further travel, officials said on Monday.

The Southern Railway alone dealt with over 4,500 passengers at the Chennai Central Station, and arranged for the accommodation of over 1,100 passengers at the state government-run shelter camps.

A senior Railway Ministry official in Delhi said that authorities maintained a vigil and extended help to all passengers left stranded at stations across the country.

The railways had decided to cancel all passenger and express trains in view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for Janata Curfew on Sunday from 7 am to 9 pm. The railways had announced that trains originating on Sunday between 4 am and 10 pm will remain cancelled. However, the trains which had started their journeys beforehand plied to their destination.

On Monday, railways decided to cancel over 13,600 trains including the express, mail and passenger across the country till March 31. Only goods trains were exempted to ensure supply of essential items.

The official said that passengers were stuck at three stations. "We found passengers stranded at Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Chennai in Tamil Nadu and Katni in Madhya Pradesh, due to sudden suspension of express and mail train services," he said.

The situation in Chennai was a bit different: Most of the about 4,500 passengers stranded at the Chennai Central station were factory workers returning home after their units closed in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

There were passengers from Kerala who wanted to return to West Bengal and other states, but as all train services were suspended from Sunday-Monday midnight they were left stranded at the Chennai station.

"So, we arranged food and water for them in the night," he said.

Later they were shifted to the state camps for further stay.

The Southern Railway spokesperson confirmed that about 1,100 stranded passengers were shifted to the state-run shelter camp after suspension of train services.

He said: "The Chennai Corporation provided food to over 4,500 passengers stranded at the Chennai Central station. A total of 1,629 stranded passengers were evacuated to 18 relief camps.

"This was done by the state government and facilitated by Railway Protection Force, commercial staff and Government Railway Police."

The railway official said that following heavy passenger traffic at Katni and Jhansi stations, the railways arranged for their food and onward travel by buses.

On Monday, railways also extended the time of stay of passengers in its retiring rooms. Rules earlier provided that a passenger can stay at railways retiring room from for periods ranging from three hours to three days.A

(Anand Singh can be contacted at anand.s@ians.in)