The Indian Railways on Thursday withdrew concessions for all categories of passengers, except students, persons with disabilities and patients, to discourage non-essential travel and contain the spread of coronavirus, PTI reported.
The Ministry of Railways in an order referred to the health advisory issued to control the spread of COVID-19, and said concessional general and computerised reservation tickets for bookings made on or after March 20, 2020 shall not be issued till further advice.
The railways provides travel concessions to 51 categories of people, including senior citizens, sportspersons, those nationally awarded, journalists and unemployed youth. It said concessions have been withdrawn for senior citizens as the risk of spread and mortality rate due to the infection is highest among that category.
The order added that necessary changes in the software would be made by the Centre for Railway Information Systems and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Development Corporation that manage the ticketing systems.
Earlier in the day, officials said said the railways has cancelled 84 more trains between March 20 to March 31. This takes the number of trains cancelled to 155.
“All passengers having tickets in these 155 trains are being informed about it individually,” an official told PTI. “No cancellation fee will be deducted for these trains. Passengers will get 100% refund.”
The move came as experts have said people must practice social distancing and avoid groups of more than 10 people to slow the spread of the pandemic.
So far, 173 patients have tested positive for coronavirus in India. Nineteen people have recovered and four have died due to the disease. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged citizens to face the coronavirus pandemic with collective determination and patience, to make sure that “humanity and India prevails”. He warned against panic buying and asked people to observe a “janata curfew”, or to stay indoors, on Sunday between 7 am and 9 pm.