RAILWAY AUTHORITIES are keen on resuming local train services in West Bengal allowing 50 per cent of passenger strength and ensuring that Covid-19 safety protocols are followed strictly, officials said on Monday after a meeting with top state government officials. Initially, they were targeting to resume the operations with 10-20 per cent of the normal services which will be slowly increased to 25 per cent, they said.
A final decision on the resumption of local train services will be taken at a meeting with the state government on November 5. The local train services were when lockdown was announced in March.
Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said planning regarding ticketing, route selection and the number of trains was being worked out and a final decision on resumption of the services and the date would be taken after a meeting with the state government on November 5.
On Sunday, the Railways also wrote a letter to the state and expressed its readiness to resume suburban or local train services in the state. In the letter, Eastern Railway Additional General Manager Aneet Dulat said they had proposed the resumption of suburban train services to the state government earlier but the latter decided to only resume Metro services in Kolkata.
A senior Railways official said, “We reassure the public and the state government that we will start the services soon and the final decision will be taken on November 5. The idea is that we run the services while maintaining the Covid safety protocols. Initially, we are planning to start with 10 to 20 per cent of the normal services and then escalate to 25 percent.”
West Bengal has been witnessing protests amid demand from the people to resume normal local train services.
On Monday, rail commuters squatted on railway tracks in at least three stations in Hooghly district, demanding they be allowed to board ‘staff special’ trains. The blockades at Rishra, Baidyabati and Sheoraphuli stations till noon halted the movement of at least two staff special trains on the Howrah-Bandel section of the Eastern Railway, a police officer said.
The protesters complained they were not being allowed to board the “near-empty” ‘staff special’ trains. This comes two days after over 100 commuters tried to force their way into a staff special train at Howrah station, leading to a scuffle with railway police personnel. — WITH pti
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