Decision to resume local trains to be taken on Nov 5: WB govt

Kolkata, Nov 2 : The West Bengal government and senior officials from both the Eastern Railway (ER) and South Eastern Railway (SER) on Monday held a high-level meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna to decide on the resumption of metropolitan and suburban train services.

“Any resumption of metropolitan and suburban train service is bound to have impact on public health. All of us have to be aware that any restart of public transportation will have implications in the context of the pandemic. Despite that, keeping in view the distressing passengers and the economy, we have decided to sit across the table with the officials from both the ER and SER on November 5 to finally decide on the time table of suburban train services,” Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay told mediapersons here .

The meeting was held among senior state government officials and representatives from the Eastern Railway and the South Eastern Railway, a day after the Mamata Banerjee-led government wrote to the railways division seeking discussions about operating a few pairs of suburban trains.

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“We will have to keep the Covid-19 health protocols in mind while resuming the local train services. We will jointly decide the modalities on Thursday at around 4.30 pm,” Bandopadhyay said, adding that full planning would be done by the railway officials in a day or two and the final call would be taken in the next meeting.

“Normally around 1,200 passengers can be accommodated in a local train. Keeping in mind the Covid-19 safety protocols, the railway officials will try to allow about 600 people in a local passenger train at a time so that the health hazard can be avoided,” said the Chief Secretary.

He further pointed out that the railway authorities will formulate the final calendar for running the services.

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Earlier on Saturday, state Additional Chief Secretary (home) H.K. Dwivedi had urged the Railways to run a few pairs of suburban trains daily after commuters protested at Howrah station.

Irate daily passengers also staged protests on the railway tracks in various stations of Hooghly district on Monday, demanding immediate resumption of local train services.

On a normal day, as many as 915 local trains are operated from the Sealdah division and 407 from the Howrah division.

“We will initially start with 10-15 per cent of the total number of local trains and will take it to at least 25 per cent in a few days,” said an ER official.

He said that the railway authorities are are trying to figure out e-ticketing service which can be done through mobile phones.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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