THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/KOCHI: The state is moving into a lockdown mode at least in public transport with the Railways, KSRTC and Kochi airport announcing a complete or partial halt to services. All train services in the country have been fully cancelled till March 31. A directive in this regard was issued by the Railway Board on Sunday.
However, the movement of goods trains will continue to ensure the essential supplies in various parts of the country.
“For the convenience of passengers, full refund for all cancelled trains can be availed till June 21. Adequate arrangements have been made to facilitate hassle-free refund to passengers affected by train cancellations,” a railway official said.
The KSRTC will further cut down its services anticipating a drop in the number of passengers and further restrictions from the state government. It has already suspended inter-state operations after neighbouring states banned vehicle entry. “Lack of passengers is one of the major issues we are facing now,” said Transport Minister A K Saseendran. According to him, the number of passengers is expected to decline further in the coming days. The KSRTC has been operating nearly 5,000 schedules on working days. However, only around 3,000 services were operated last week. The corporation operates around 400 inter-state services to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
“We will have to reduce the number of schedules drastically or suspend the services if the government imposes stringent measures,” said an officer.Meanwhile, the trade unions have demanded KSRTC management to suspend all services till March 31 as a precaution against the virus spread. “It is difficult to maintain social distancing in a public transport system. Hence, the services should be suspended immediately,” said Kerala State Road Transport Employees Union general secretary M G Rahul.
Only domestic flights
At the same time, all international flights coming to Cochin International Airport have been suspended till March 28, after the Emirates flight coming from Doha landed in airport at 9.20am on Sunday. Officials said only domestic flights will continue to operate while international flights will cease to fly to or from CIAL till further notice.
After the Covid-19 temperature scanning, the passengers who arrived on Emirates flight on Sunday were transported to their homes in ambulances, an official statement said. As many as 2,043 passengers, who arrived in Kochi on 13 flights from Saturday night to Sunday morning, were tested for Covid-19. The tests revealed Covid-19-like symptoms in 46 passengers, who were shifted to the Ernakulam MCH, Kalamassery, for further tests.
Kochi Metro’s services will remain suspended till March 31. Kochi Metro Rail Limited managing director Alkesh Kumar Sharma said the move is aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus by ensuring social distancing and encouraging people to stay at home for the time being.