As the state of West Bengal battles against the coronavirus pandemic, the city’s underground and surface transport is to remain suspended for the next few days.
The services of Kolkata’s lifeline, the Metro railway, carrying more than six lakh commuters daily, have been suspended from tomorrow till 31 March. The Kolkata Metro Railway, had earlier announced curtailed number of services today, running trains at an interval of 30 minutes following the country-wide selfimposed curfew.
However, later during the day, the gap was increased to one hour. It was finally decided to cancel the services totally following the suspension of all metro services in the country till 31 March. Alongside, the state transport department has suspended the operations of inter-state buses.
No inter – state buses are allowed to ply to and from West Bengal to other states till midnight of 31 March. Also, plying of long distance buses within the state has also been curtailed. Similarly, the movement of commercial vehicles including trucks and trailers carrying non-essential commodities from other states to West Bengal has also been prohibited by the department till 31 March.
With the suspension of public transport services from 4 pm of 23 March till 27 March, including taxis and auto-rickshaws, the members of private bus unions also have decided to withdraw their services from tomorrow till further notification by the state government.
However, surface transport to and from hospitals, airports, railway stations, bus stands or terminuses and commercial vehicles carrying food and essential commodities will be allowed to operate. Alongside, the Indian Railways has decided to halt all its passenger services from March 22 midnight to March 31 midnight.
The Eastern and South Eastern Railways, had already trimmed down their services today and operated only bare minimum local trains as part of the 14 hours ‘Janata Curfew’. Trains that had already started the journey were allowed to continue.
However, after the issuance of a new order by the Railway Board, not only the services of long distance mail, express, intercity trains have been suspended but the operations of suburban trains have also been cancelled for the period till 31 March.
Today, many passengers were seen stranded at Sealdah and Howrah Stations due to the cancellation of trains. Many others, after arrival of their train at the station had to feel the heat due to fewer numbers of surface transport available. Long lines of passengers stood waiting to get into the state-run buses, while others had no options than to avail online app cabs that charged staggering amounts of fares.