AFTER SEEING the public response on Day 1 on Wednesday, the Railways has decided to increase the number of local trains in Howrah and Sealdah divisions. As many as 696 suburban railway services in West Bengal resumed on Wednesday after nearly eight months of suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Large crowds were seen at almost all platforms in Howrah and Sealdah divisions during office hours. Officials of the state government, Eastern Railways and South-Eastern Railways held a meeting on Thursday. Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and Home Secretary Hari Krishna Dwivedi were among those present in the meeting, during which the Railways agreed with the state government’s proposal to increase the number of local trains during office hours.
After the meeting, Bandyopadhyay told mediapersons, “It was 30 lakh passenger daily before the pandemic began. On Wednesday, the number was 10 lakh.” This, however, is still a substantial number and the security personnel had a tough task in maintaining Covid protocol on the trains.
A senior Railways official said, “On Wednesday, 75 per cent of the total number of the trains ran. But after seeing the crowds, we decided to increase it to 100 per cent from Friday. We are hoping that the crowd management will be better now.
The railways have appealed to the people to strictly follow Covid-19 protocols.
Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted on Tuesday: “Railways to operate 696 suburban services in West Bengal from Wednesday onwards, ensuring safe and convenient movement for the passengers of Kolkata.”
The Eastern Railway (ER) also urged all commuters to follow guidelines strictly, such as using hand sanitisers, wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing norms while travelling on local trains. Officials in the South Eastern Railway also said necessary arrangements were made to sanitise coaches daily to ensure safety of passengers. They also deployed railway and civil forces to monitor passengers’ movements, sources said.
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