In a major relief to the regular commuters hailing from suburban areas, local train services will resume next week after a hiatus of more than seven months.
State government officials and representatives of Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway today agreed to restart suburban train services from 11 November.
The decision was taken after a high level meeting at the state secretariat today. While the date of resumption of services has been decided, another meeting to discuss and finalise the Covid-19 specific operating procedures is likely to take place on 9 November.
According to sources in the Railways, a total of 362 local train services will be operated on the first day.
In Sealdah Division, 114 pairs of local trains will be run while in Howrah Division, 50 pairs of trains will be operated in the suburban lines by the Eastern Railway. South Eastern Railway will run 17 pairs of trains from Howrah. The number will be increased in a graded manner as and when desirable.
The trains will be run according to the existing time table and there will be no new galloping locals in any of the zonal railways.
“In line with the Covid protocols, masks and face cover will be mandatory for passengers before boarding a local train. The state government and the railway police will together handle the crowd,” informed a source in the Railways.
The railway authorities will also make tickets available at the station counters with physical distancing norms. The existing system of mobile ticketing will also be functional for passengers.
Regular travellers expressed happiness over the planned resumption of local train services. “I have been staying at a rented house since the past few months leaving my family behind in Murshidabad,” said an artisan working at a jewellery showroom in Bowbazar.
“I was able to see them only once in a month as the fare from Kolkata to Murshidabad in a bus was too high. I am glad I will be able to see my ailing mother more often after local train services resume,” he added.
Swapan Das, hailing from Hooghly district and working at a flower shop near Lake Market echoed, “I have not been able to go home for the last one and a half months. My earnings have reduced after a pay cut. I have heard my ninemonthold daughter is keeping unwell but was not able to go, thinking of the fare. The news of restarting local trains has come as a blessing to me and I will rush to my family in the next week.”