In view of the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra and Gujarat, the Western Railways suspended the services of Tejas Express between Ahmedabad and Mumbai for a month starting Friday. Maharashtra on Thursday reported 43,183 new COVID-19 cases, its highest one-day rise since the pandemic began and 249 deaths during the day, another record since October last year. While Gujarat reported its highest single-day spike of 2,410 COVID-19 cases today.
Announcing the suspension of train services, the Divisional Railway Manager, Ahmedabad Division, said in a tweet, “Keeping in view the rising COVID-19 cases and in the larger public interest, it has been decided to suspend the Services of train no. 82902/82901 Ahmedabdad-Mumbai Central-Ahmedabad Tejas Express wef 02.04.21 for a period of one month.”
The railway authorities had resumed the services of Mumbai Central-Ahmedabad Tejas Express regularly four days a week from February 14 this year. The IRCTC had cancelled all the trips of this train from 24 November last year due to poor occupancy levels owing to COVID-19 pandemic, after resuming its services in October.
Meanwhile, the Railways said it is likely to restore its train services to pre-COVID levels over the next two months, provided the state governments give their nod and the coronavirus pandemic is under control, news agency PTI reported. They also said these are likely to be special trains only and not regular services. Currently 66 per cent of trains are operational, albeit as special trains. The special trains being run by the railway have marginally higher fares, offer no concessions except in certain categories and operate as fully reserved services.
All regular passenger services of the Railways remain suspended since the lockdown was announced in March last year. But the national transporter started special train services in a phased manner since May 2020. As of now, 77 per cent of mail, express trains are in service, 91 per cent of suburban trains are running while only 20 per cent of passenger trains are currently on tracks.
“Over the next two months, we would like to reach the pre-Covid level of services with our special trains. However, this depends on approval from states as well as the status of the coronavirus pandemic,” said an official. The pre-Covid average of mail, express trains was 1,768 per day, now it is 1,353 per day, while before the pandemic, 3,634 passenger trains were running daily, only 740 are in service per day currently. However, while pre-Covid, 5,881 suburban trains were in operation per day, now, 5,381 trains are on track.
On Thursday, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal held a review meeting with Railway Board and Zonal Railways and reviewed the progress of ongoing projects and discussed ways to expedite completion.
India recorded its highest daily rise in COVID-19 cases this year with 72,330 new infections being reported in a span of 24 hours, taking the total tally of cases to 1,22,21,665, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday. The single-day rise in cases is the highest recorded since October 11, 2020, while the death toll increased to 1,62,927 with 459 daily new fatalities, the highest in around 116 days, the data updated at 8 am showed.
Registering a steady increase for the 22nd day in row, the active cases have increased to 5,84,055 comprising 4.78 per cent of the total infections, while the recovery rate has further dropped to 93.89 per cent, the data stated. As many as 74,383 new infections were recorded in a span of 24 hours on October 11, 2020.