KOLKATA: The possibility of resumption of Kolkata Metro Railway services from July 1 to alleviate the travel woes of commuters is unlikely till the Railway Ministry gives its nod for doing so, officials said here on Monday.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed willingness to allow metro services from July 1, over which a meeting between the Kolkata Metro authorities and the state government officials was held at the state secretariat here on Monday.
At first, the state government has to communicate its inclination on running of metro services to the Railway Ministry, following which it will take a call on the issue, according to sources.
The Railway Board had said on June 25 that all regular mail, express and passenger services as well as suburban trains will remain cancelled till August 12 in the wake of the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country, “To start metro services before August 12, we need instructions from the Railway Ministry following clearances from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” a senior Metro official said.
During the meeting with the state government officials, the metro authorities said, crowd controlling for maintaining social distancing inside the trains and also at stations would be a challenge once the services are resumed.
“The metro authorities informed the state government that it can run limited number of trains. Only essential services staff may be allowed to avail the trains to ensure social distancing norms keeping in mind COVID-19 safety protocols,” the official said.
Under normal circumstances, the Kolkata Metro carries around 6.5 lakh passengers on a weekday.
The Kolkata Metro has been conducting trial runs of trains for maintenance of its rolling stock, signalling systems and other facilities since the last week of May to keep the trains ready for resumption of services, according to the official.
It had earlier said that strict social distancing norms would be maintained at entry and inside coaches after recommencement of services.