In view of the increasing number of coronavirus patients in the country, the national transporter on Sunday announced stopping all the trains, except the goods trains, till March 31.
Rajesh Dutt Bajpai, Executive Director, Ministry of Railways, in a statement said, "No train except goods train will be run up to midnight hrs of March 31."
Bajpai said bare minimum suburban services and Kolkata metro Rail service will continue to run till midnight on March 22.
"Thereafter these services will also be stopped till midnight of March 31," he added.
The national transporter's decision came amid reports of two fresh deaths from Covid-19 in Maharashtra and Bihar.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic gripping the country, the Railway had earlier asked people to "postpone all journeys" as a number of COVID-19 positive persons were found travelling in trains.
The railway ministry in a tweet said, "Railways has found some cases of Coronavirus infected passengers in trains which makes travel risky. Avoid train travel as you may also get infected if your co-passenger has coronavirus. Postpone all journeys and keep yourself and your loved ones safe."
The appeal from the national transporter comes in the wake of the spike in the number of positive cases in the country.
On Saturday, the railways deboarded two passengers, a Delhi based couple from Bengaluru-New Delhi Rajdhani Express at Kazipet railway station, taking the total number of passengers deboarded to 12 in the last couple of days.
As a precautionary measure, the Indian Railways has already cancelled several trains and also increased the prices of the platform tickets to Rs 50 from Rs 10. In a bid to stop the overcrowding at the railway premises, the railways on Saturday also relaxed the rules for the ticket refund rules for counter generated tickets.
The IRCTC on the other hand has also stopped serving food on several trains and also announced that food plazas will remain closed till further notice. The railways had earlier removed the curtains and blankets from the air-conditioned coaches as a part of precautionary measure to stop the chain of infection of COVID-19.
The South Western Railway (SWR) zone has cancelled 226 trains on Sunday in view of the people's curfew amid COVID-19 outbreak, an official said on Saturday.
"In connection with janta (people's) curfew for COVID-19 alert on Sunday, all mail, express and intercity trains, including premium trains, 92 trains, originating between 4 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday from SWR are cancelled," told a SWR spokesperson to IANS.
To contain the spread of coronavirus in the country and avoid huge rush at the railway premises, the Indian Railways has asked the passengers not to come immediately to the reservation counters to cancel their tickets.
It relaxed the refund period of cancelled tickets for three months.
In a statement, the Railway Ministry said all rules for e-ticket remain the same as a passenger does not need to come to a station for a refund.
The railways said that in case the train is cancelled by Indian Railways for journey period from March 21 March to April 15, the refund across the counter can be made on submission of ticket up to three months from date of journey.
"This relaxation is for three months journey period i.e. from March 21 to June 21, 2020," the railways said.
Earlier, to cancel a ticket booked from the reservation counter, a passenger needed to submit the ticket from three hours to 72 hours.
(With IANS Inputs)