Kolkata: The railways plans to resume operations in Bengal with over 600 services a day, up from 350 odd it was initially planning. This translates into resumption of nearly 50% services in the state. The decision to increase the number of services has been taken to reduce overcrowding on trains.
On Friday, during a meeting with state government officials, the railways had indicated that it would start running about 25% services in the Howrah and Sealdah divisions of Eastern Railway and Kharagpur division of South Eastern Railway.
“We can actually resume full operations whenever required. We have the assets in place and our motormen and guards are also working. Before the meeting with the state, we weren’t quite sure about it’s plans and had worked out a schedule for about 25% services. Later, when we realized that the state wants no restrictions, a decision was taken to run as many services as possible,” a senior railways official in Kolkata said.
This means that Eastern Railway (ER) and South Eastern Railway (SER) will start running over 600 services from Wednesday. This will come as a big relief for commuters who were concerned that they wouldn’t even get a toehold during the morning and evening peak hours on trains if only 25% services are resumed. The railways feels that thousands of people from the suburbs are planning to resume their economic activities in Kolkata from Wednesday.
“We anticipate large crowds from Wednesday onwards. People will certainly seek to travel to Kolkata for livelihoods. However, restrictions need to be in place due to the pandemic and fewer trains will lead to overcrowding. We wish to avoid overcrowding and plan to run more services. The details will be finalized before we publish the schedule. The overall percentage is likely to be around 47%-48%,” the railways official said.
ER and SER run nearly 1,500 services daily. Both zones have already begun sanitizing stations and rakes to resume services from Wednesday. Officials indicated that there will be strict adherence to Covid-19 norms and people wouldn’t be allowed into railway premises without masks. However, there may be certain problems. One of the major issues would arise in controlling the number of illegal stalls at wayside stations where people gather.