After CM's intervention, Eastern Rlys to run 95% of suburban trains
Kolkata: The Eastern Railways have decided to take the number of suburban train services to 95 per cent of the total trains that used to operate in the pre-Covid period in the morning and evening peak hours.
The move was taken following the intervention of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to ensure the maintenance of physical distancing among people while availing the suburban train service that resumed in the state on Wednesday after remaining suspended for seven long months.
Banerjee on Wednesday said that there is a need to increase the number of trains and frequency of service so that physical distancing norms are well maintained to check the spread of Covid.
The top brass of the state government led by Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay held a high-level meeting with authorities of both Eastern Railways and South Eastern Railways at Bhawani Bhawan on Thursday to take a call on increasing the service of suburban trains.
Bandyopadhyay said after the meeting that the Chief Minister had given direction on Wednesday itself in this regard. Subsequently, a meeting was held on Thursday in which both Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway assured of increasing the number of trains.
A senior official of the Eastern Railway said that the number of trains will be increased. "Around 75 per cent of the number of trains that used to run in pre-Covid time is operating at present. We will surely increase it to 95 per cent in the morning and evening peak hours in both Howrah and Sealdah divisions. We will attempt to make it 100 per cent to ensure that physical distancing is maintained among commuters," the official said, adding that 10 lakh people used the suburban train service of Eastern Railways on Wednesday after the sub-urban train service resumed.
Around 30 lakh people used to use the service of Eastern Railway when 1315 trains used to run per day in the pre-Covid period. Only one-third passengers compared to that of pre-Covid situation travelled on Wednesday as many institutions including schools and colleges are closed.
Giving detailed information on passenger count on Wednesday, the official further said: "Average 2,200 passenger used to travel in a train in the pre-Covid situation. On Wednesday stood at 1,200. It is less than that of normal time, but it is more compared to that of the sitting capacity at this pandemic situation. There were many trains in which people were found standing as all the seats were occupied while trains in some routes remained empty."
The Eastern Railways had an initial plan of resuming the service at its Howrah Division with 210 trains. But 103 additional trains were run on Wednesday to check the gathering. After the experience from the first day of the service after the resumption, the number of trains is now going to increase further mainly in the morning and evening rush hours.
South-Eastern Railway will also augment the service as and when necessary. It has stated that the occupancy rate of the trains run on Wednesday was 53 to 58 per cent during the peak hours while it was 35 per cent at other times.