Eastern Railway gears up for start of local train services

Though the Centre has not yet ordered the restart of suburban train services, Eastern Railway has chalked out plans to ensure Covid-19 safety norms are followed at stations once local trains start running.

“There are no directives as of now. Only special trains are running. It has not yet been finalised when the local trains will resume services,” said Eastern Railway CPRO Nikhil Chakraborty.

According to sources, primary steps have been taken to ensure social distancing is maintained at railway stations. Circles have been drawn on platforms so that commuters maintain distance from each other while boarding trains. “Primary steps have already been taken — like coaches have been sanitised, circles have been marked on the floor to maintain distance,” said an official.

The Sealdah division normally handles more than 10 lakh passengers a day. Once services restart, adequate numbers of Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel will be deployed for crowd management.

Officials said modalities and logistics to ensure the smooth operation of trains would have to be worked out in consultation with the state government.

On August 28, the state government had urged the Railways to allow a limited number of local trains to be operated, along with Kolkata Metro. In a letter to Railway Board Chairperson Vinod Kumar Yadav, Home Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay said the train services could be restarted after implementing mechanisms to ensure Covid-19 protocols are followed.