ISLAMABAD        -             Federal Minster for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed on Saturday announced to suspend 42 trains by April 1 as preventive measure to restrict the transmission of pandemic COVID-19 corona virus. Addressing a press conference, the minister said that 12 trains (6-up+down) will be suspend from Sunday evening whereas 22 trains (11-up+down) will be suspended from Tuesday morning and other 8 trains (4-up+down) will be suspended on April 1.

Khushhal express, Akbar express, Sindh express, Ravi express, Shah Latif and Rohi Express, (6-up+6 down) will be closed from Sunday evening whereas Jinnah Express, Bolan Express, Moinjo Daro Express, Thal Express, Marvi Express, Samman Shakir Express, Faisalabad Express, Mosa Pak Express and Channab Express will be suspended on March 25, said the minster.

The decision of phasewise suspension of trains have been taken to facilitate the passengers, the minister said adding that Pakistan Railway has refunded Rs. 800 million to the passengers so far however the passengers have been given an option to either take a refund or avail the ticket in another train in the same class.

He said that 700 million passengers annually travelled through Pakistan Railway and average two hundred thousand passengers per day travelled through these trains but due to current situation the number had declined to 1,65,000 passengers per day.

Sheikh Rasheed said that National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had promised to provide scanners and protective gears for better scanning of passengers traveling through railways. Pakistan Railways operated 142 trains on 1885 kilometer long track said the minister adding the government had decided to suspend only 42 trains out of 142 because railways was out of cash to pay refunds at once to all the passengers.

He said, he agreed with the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision of not to lockdown the country but therefore the suspended trains would be restored soon the situation improved.

He said the notification for suspension of trains would remain effective till 15 Ramzan however the notification would either be revoked or renewed keeping in view the situation. He appealed the passengers to avoid unnecessary traveling and stay home.

The minister said that Pakistan Railways would have no problem in payment of salaries to the staff however regarding payment of pension he had spoken with the Prime Minister to bear the burden replacing it with a subsidy, the government paid to Pakistan Railways.

With the suspension of 42 trains, Pakistan Railways will have financial loss of Rs2.3538 billion, the minister said adding that no daily wages employee of railway will be sent home in this emergency situation.

If the government took responsibility of payment of pension to Railway employees, the deficit of Pakistan railway would be zero and it would become a profit-making entity, said the minster.