Kolkata: The West Bengal government and railway board officials held a high-level meeting on Wednesday to decide the time-table for local suburban trains, especially during the peak hours, once they resume regular services.
The meeting was held to prepare the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the local train services. The session was held between state Home Secretary H.K. Dwivedi and top Eastern Railway officials, along with divisional railway managers of Howrah, Sealdah and Kharagpur railway stations.
According to sources, it has been learnt that the state government has requested the railway board to run at least 200 local trains in Bengal during the peak office hours everyday, in a bid to avoid unwarranted gathering at stations. The railway authorities have also reportedly agreed upon the proposal.
Earlier it was decided that initially the railway authorities would run about 10-15 per cent of the total number of local trains and would take it to at least 25 per cent in a few days, depending on the situation.
On a normal day, as many as 915 local trains are operated from Sealdah division and 407 from the Howrah division – two major railheads in eastern India.
Normally around 1,200 passengers can be accommodated in a local train. Keeping in mind the Covid-19 safety protocols, the railway officials will try to allow about 600 people in a local passenger train at a time.
The final call will jointly be taken in a meeting by the state government and railway officials on Thursday afternoon.
Sources, however, said that railway officials have not decided anything about the total number of metropolitan and suburban trains beyond the peak office hours everyday. They will analyse the pros and cons and take the final decision in Thursday’s meeting.
The biggest challenge now for both the state government and the railway officials is crowd management during office hours, especially at stations like Bidhannagar, Barrackpore, Dum Dum, Sodepur, Barasat, Naihati, Bally, Rishra, Chandannagar and Sreerampur.
The state government and senior railway officials had held a high-level meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna on Monday to decide on resumption of metropolitan and suburban train services.