Apprehension of violation of COVID safety protocol is looming large two days ahead of resumption of local train services as the Eastern Railways (ER) and the South Eastern Railways (SER) authorities are making preparations in full swing at various stations.
Starting from entry points to inside coaches, designated staff were seen putting up guard rails, marking at stations, platforms and coaches, sanitizing etc. The divisional railway manager of Sealdah visited various stations to take note of the preparations.
Both ER and SER are to run over 700 train services in Sealdah and Howrah Divisions. The ER has planned to run 413 suburban trains over Sealdah Division and 202 over Howrah Division. Of the 413 trains in Sealdah, 270 will ply on the Sealdah Main/North (including circular railway) and 143 in the Sealdah South section.
Out of 270 EMU services in the Sealdah Main/North sections including Circular Railway, 22 trains will run in Sealdah-Krishnanagar section, 24 in Sealdah-Naihati section, 10 in Sealdah-Ranaghat-Lalgola section, 26 in SealdahHasnabad section, 8 in Sealdah -Barasat-Duttapukur section, 39 in Sealdah-Bangaon section.
Out of 143 trains across Sealdah South section, 27 trains will ply in Sealdah – Komagata Maru Budge Budge section, 21 trains in Sealdah – Lakshmikantapur – Namkhana section, 24 in Sealdah – Diamond Harbour section, 31 in Sealdah – Canning section, 19 in Sealdah – Sonarpur section and 21 trains in Sealdah – Sonarpur – Baruipur section. In the Howrah Division, out of 202 suburban trains, 38 trains will run in Howrah – Bandel section, 10 in Howrah – Tarakeswar – Arambag – Goghat section, 12 in Howrah – Katwa section, 8 in Bandel – Katwa section, 19 in Howrah – Tarakeswar section, 20 in Howrah – Burdwan Main line section, 22 in Howrah – Burdwan chord line section, 18 in Bandel – Naihati section along with services in other routes.
The zonal railways opened the counters for normal journey ticketing from 8 am this morning. However, few complaints of unavailability of tickets due to link failure were reported from Garia station.
Meanwhile, apprehending increase in demand after local train resumption, Kolkata Metro Railway has decided to run 25 percent additional services on weekdays. Sources said 190 services will be run instead of 152 services on the North South Corridor from 8 am to 10pm from Monday to Saturday.
During morning and evening peak hours, services will be available at an interval of seven minutes.
The first service from Dum Dum and Kavi Subhash will begin at 8am while from Noapara the time will be 8.09 am. The last service from Kavi Subhash and Dum Dum will start at 9.00 pm and from Noapara at 8.55 pm. Services on Sunday in the north-south line and in East-West Metro have been kept unchanged.
With lakhs of commuters dependent on local train services, which serve as a lifeline for the suburbs and rural areas for more than 100 km away from Kolkata, there is an apprehension of violation of maintaining COVID safety protocols, especially during the morning and evening peak hours when trains are usually chock-ablock with passengers.
“Close liaison with the state authorities and various railway departments is being programmed for ensuring social distancing, better queue management and prevention of the infection,” the SER official said.