Railways is set to cancel around 39 lakh tickets booked for travel between April 15 and May 3 due to extension of the nationwide lockdown and suspension of passenger trains till then in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, sources told PTI.
With the national transporter allowing tickets to be booked during the 21-day lockdown for journeys after April 14, around 39 lakh bookings were made by passengers hoping that trains will be in operation post-lockdown.
Even as the announcement stalled over 15,000 passenger trains of the railways, thousands of migrant workers converged near the Bandra railway station in Mumbai hoping to catch trains back to their home states.
While they were dispersed later, questions were raised as to why railways kept bookings open despite the uncertainty over the extension of the lockdown period.
Railways, however, said all passengers will get full refund for tickets booked for the cancelled trains as well as for those booked in advance.
Railways has also said full refunds would be automatically provided by the national transporter for its online customers, while those who have booked at the counters can take the refunds up to July 31.
Customers will also get full refund of their tickets if they are cancelling their advance bookings of tickets for trains that are not yet cancelled, it said.
It also said that 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 trains cancelled up to May 3 is concerned, the refunds would be made automatically by the railways online to the customers while those who have booked at the counters, refund can be taken up to 31st July. Full refund will be given for tickets for the bookings made for the trains cancelled.
"Full refund will also be there for those cancelling the advance bookings of tickets for trains not yet cancelled," Railways said.
Before the pandemic, on an average, around 8.5 lakh tickets were booked daily on the IRCTC website.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the lockdown across the country will be extended till May 3 to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying the measure has produced a significant outcome in containing the infection.
After Modi's March 22 announcement of a 21-day lockdown across the country, the railways on March 24 had announced that its suspension of all passenger services will continue till April 14 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Around 15,523 trains run by the railways have been affected including 9,000 passenger trains and 3,000 mail express services which are run daily under normal circumstances.
The death toll in the country due to novel coronavirus rose to 353 with 29 fatalities reported since Monday evening, while the number of cases saw a record jump of 1,463 to go up to 10,815 cases on Tuesday, according to the Union health ministry.
The number of active COVID-19 cases in the country has crossed the 9,000-mark, while over 1,100 people have been cured and discharged, and one has migrated to another country, it said.