Local train services start in Bengal with 50% capacity

Kolkata: After a gap of nearly six months the local trains in West Bengal have resumed running from Sunday giving a huge relief to passengers. Though the state government was opening up the transport system in phases, it didn’t allow local trains so far fearing that carrying so many passengers at a time in a single compartment might lead to the spreading of the coronavirus.

In a notification issued by the Eastern Railways, it has been said that the local trains will start functioning from Sunday and it will be increased step by step. The notification also said that the decision to start local trains was decided after the state government directed the railway authorities to normalise train services in the state.

“We had requested the state government several times but the state didn’t allow us. Without the state’s permission it is impossible to run local trains. Now the state has given the permission, we will try to normalise the train services as soon as possible but it is a gap of six months and it will take some time,” a senior railway official said.

According to sources in the railways, presently the trains will run with only fifty per cent capacity. Interestingly enough the railway authorities are also not sure whether it is possible to run train services with only fifty per cent passengers at the rush hours. “Today is Sunday and so the passenger turnout was low but during the rush hours it is difficult to control the crowd but we have instructed the railway police to implement the fifty per cent rule strictly,” a railway official said.

During the second Covid wave, the railways – after several agitations in different stations by the passengers – had decided to run Covid special trains in which passengers only on emergency duty were allowed to board. Though the railways said that they adhered to the rule, in reality, people took this opportunity and availed the train services. “Now when the government has decided to regularise the services then more people will board leading to huge crowds and that might lead to the spread of the disease,” Anjan Pathak – a daily passenger said.

The move has been appreciated by all sections of the people, especially by the hawkers who live by selling their products in the trains. “We have been in real trouble for the last two years. I have no earning. Now that the train service has started again, I shall have an opportunity to start my business again,” a hawker said.


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