Railways to cancel around 39 lakh tickets booked for Apr 15-May 3 due to lockdown extension

The railways is set to cancel around 39 lakh tickets booked for journeys between April 15 and May 3 due to the extension of the nationwide lockdown and suspension of passenger trains till the extended period in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, sources said. With the national transporter allowing tickets to be booked during the 21-day lockdown announced earlier for journeys starting after April 14, around 39 lakh bookings were made by passengers. However, with the lockdown being extended, the railways not only cancelled all its passenger services till May 3 on Tuesday, but also stopped advance bookings. Even as the announcement stalled over 15,000 passenger trains, thousands of migrant workers gathered near Mumbai”s Bandra railway station on Tuesday, hoping to catch trains back to their home states. While they were dispersed subsequently, questions were raised as to why did the railways keep bookings open, despite the uncertainty over the extension of the lockdown period. The Indian Railways, however, said all passengers will get a full refund for tickets booked for the cancelled trains as well as for those booked in advance. It added that the amount would be automatically refunded to online customers, while those who booked tickets at the counters could claim the refund till July 31. Customers will also get a full refund of their ticket amount if they cancel their advance bookings for trains that are not cancelled yet, the railways said. It also said no advance reservation of train tickets, including e-tickets, will be allowed till further orders, though the facility of online cancellation will remain functional. “As far as the trains cancelled up to May 3 are concerned, the refund would be made automatically by the railways to online customers, while those who have booked at the counters can claim the refund till July 31. A full refund will be given for the bookings made for the trains cancelled. “A full refund will also be there for those cancelling advance bookings for trains not cancelled yet,” the national transporter said. Before the coronavirus outbreak, on an average, around 8.5 lakh tickets were booked on the IRCTC website daily. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the nationwide lockdown will be extended till May 3 to fight the pandemic, saying the measure has produced a significant outcome in containing the infection. After Modi”s March 24 announcement of a 21-day lockdown across the country, the railways had said its suspension of all passenger services will continue till April 14. Around 15,523 trains have been affected, including 9,000 passenger trains and 3,000 mail express trains that run daily under normal circumstances. The death toll in the country due to COVID-19 rose to 377 on Wednesday, while the number of cases climbed to 11,439, according to the Union Health Ministry.

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