ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Railways on Tuesday announced the closure of its entire passenger train operations across the country till March 31 as a precautionary measure to avoid spread of Corona pandemic.

The operations of trains will remain suspended from 12:00 am (Wednesday) till March 31, said a notification issued by Ministry of Railways. However, operations of freight trains would not be suspended, reads the notification.

Meanwhile in his video statement Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said “from 12 am tonight the operations of all the trains in the entire Pakistan will be closed down,”. He said that decision was taken on emergency basis with the permission of the Prime Minister, Imran Khan.

A large number of passengers were travelling daily on these trains and there was an apprehension that the virus may spread to other provinces. The services will remain closed till March 31st. Tonight at 12 am the last trains will leave and will be stopped at its destinations.

“Those people who have climbed to the roof top of trains, I am informing all the DS that they will responsible if any passenger is travelling on the roof of the trains.” The minister also directed railway police to ensure that no one should travel on the rooftop of any train.

From tomorrow all the stations and trains will be cleaned for seven days, he said. He said that Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will make decision regarding the operations of Pakistan Railway on March 31.

The federal minister said that that those people who booked their advance tickets can get a 100 percent refund. He however said that the refund will be made after the end of the lockdown.

The passengers are also allowed to travel on any trains of their choice after the resumptions of the operations, he said. 

It is worth mentioning here that out of 134 up and down trains, the government had last week announced the suspension of the operations of 34 trains. Operations of 12 up and down trains were suspended on March 22.  However, now the government has announced the operations of all the 134 trains would be suspended from Wednesday 12 am.

Around 70 million passengers travel through Railways annually and 200,000 passengers daily. Due to coronavirus, the number of passengers has decreased by almost 20 percent and currently 160000 passengers are traveling daily in trains