The second phase of the restrictions imposed due to the surge in Covid-19 cases in West Bengal will now end on July 1. This decision was taken on Monday in a meeting headed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. However, some additional relaxation have been allowed. On Sunday, the eastern and south-eastern railways wrote a letter to the state government, seeking permission for local trains to run, said the source. In the letter, the railways informed the state that many people are taking to the streets against the suspension of local train services.
While the state government had taken this step to curb the spread of Covid, the railway authorities fear that the protests may lead to an increase in cases and therefore want the services to be extended immediately.
Apart from public interest, the railway authorities also mentioned the economic loss that the department has been facing due to the suspension of local train services. For months now, only staff special trains have been operational due to which the railway’s revenue has decreased. According to railway sources, the Howrah division alone earned around Rs 56 lakh per day in April.
At present, 342 staff special trains have been running in all the branches of the Howrah-Sealdah section. Only railway employees are allowed to board staff special train. However, when the general public tries to enter those trains, it leads to a quarrel between them and the railway employees.
In the letter, the department informed the chief minister that almost daily the railway police have to interfere in such fights. If more and more general people try to fit in staff special trains, it may raise the coronavirus cases as there would be no social distancing. However, till now, no decision has been taken over this issue.
All local, suburban and EMU train services were suspended in West Bengal from May 5 this year after Covid cases shot up during the second wave. The services of special trains, mail/express special trains, parcel trains, and freight trains continued, according to the Indian Railways schedule.