South Eastern Railway (SER) may consider running graded suburban services before the Pujas after consultations with the state government and after studying the impact of resumption of restricted Metro Railway services, general manager Sanjay Kr Mohanty announced during a virtual press meet in Kolkata on Friday (11th September 2020) last week.
Prior to that on Wednesday (9th September 2020), Eastern Railway (ER) general manager Suneet Sharma had indicated that the infrastructure at wayside stations would not allow for resumption of operations at suburban stations anytime soon.
On August 28, Bengal home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay wrote to the Railway Board chairman, indicating that the state government was in favour of running Metro Railway and suburban services in a graded manner. While the ministry of home affairs (MHA) granted clearance to Metro railway systems across the country to resume services according to guidelines laid down by the ministry of housing and urban affairs, there was no mention of suburban trains.
“There is still some time before the Pujas. We shall interact with the state government and also see how the running of Metro services work out in Kolkata. If everything is fine, we may resume graded suburban services. However, no decision has been taken as yet,” Mohanty said.
ER and SER used to operate nearly 1,600 suburban trains daily before restrictions were imposed due to the pandemic. The SER GM indicated that the situation is still not conducive to resumption of normal long-distance or suburban services.
Mohanty also spoke on the steps taken by SER to handle more freight during these troubled times. SER is known as the bluechip zone of Indian Railways due to its low operating ratio (OR) and capacity to handle freight. In 2019-2020, SER registered an extremely healthy OR of 64.
“The situation was bad and our OR rose to nearly 178 in April this year. Through our concerted efforts, we succeeded in bringing this down to 98 by the end of August. We have taken several steps to handle more freight and the situation should improve further,” the GM added.