The country’s longest-running passenger train was the last to complete its run as India came to total lockdown mode in wake of coronavirus outbreak.
The Vijay Express that reached Kanyakumari on Wednesday morning after starting its journey from Dibrugarh in Assam in March 22 last had literally put the brakes of the rail service.
The train traversed through eight states and covered over 4,200 kilometres.
The train began its journey from platform number 1 of the Dibrugarh railway station on the night of March 22 a day before the ‘Janata curfew’ called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Vivek Express, which takes an astonishing 82 hours and 50 minutes to cover the distance between Dibrugarh in the far northeast to Kanyakumari in the south, was the last train on the Indian Railways network to complete its run before complete shutdown.
Indian Railways on March 22 last had announced that all its passenger services would be suspended till March 31 as part of preventive measures to check the spread of the coronavirus infection.
However, the suspension is going to be extended in the wake of the 21 days total lockdown.
While all services stood cancelled from March 23 last, the Railways allowed the trains that had already started off from their originating points to reach their destinations.
Vivek Express was one of them.
The train reached Kanyakumari at 9:36 am Wednesday, a few minutes ahead of schedule.
By the time it reached Kerala, it had just around 15 passengers, including a few natives of the state, and some Railway staff, according to reports.
All passengers were offloaded at the Thrissur railway station and will be kept in isolation for a few days to check for signs of the infection.
Throughout most of its journey, the train ran at less than 50 per cent occupancy.
The Vivek Express, which runs once a week in either direction, has 56 halts on its journey from Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari and travels through Assam, Nagaland, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The train is part of a chain of four express trains, all of which are named Vivek, which were begun by then railway minister Mamata Banerjee as part of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.