(Eds: Recasts, updates with fresh inputs) Bengaluru, May 22 (PTI) Intra-state passenger train services resumed in the country on Friday to a lacklustre response, nearly two months after being suspended due to the national lockdown, as COVID-19-weary people shied away from travel, reflecting lingering fears about spread of the virus.
South Western Railway operated three trains -- two between the city and Mysuru and one to Belagavi -- in Karnataka but the coaches were near empty, a far cry from pre-COVID era when seats used to get fully booked most of the times.
Against the capacity of 1,415 passengers in the Mysuru- bound train with 14 chair cars and two luggage-cum-brake vans, only 37 reserved passengers boarded from Bengaluru and 63 passengers arrived at the destination.
Similarly, only 59 passengers travelled from Mysuru in the return trip, according to details shared by the SWR.
The train from Bengaluru to Belagavi which departed at 8 am had a composition of 14 non air-conditioned chair cars and two luggage-cum-brake vans and had the seating capacity of 1,484 passengers.
However, only 338 passengers had made reservations for the train of which 176 boarded here.
'First intra-state passenger train in India after March 22 started in South Western Railway. We are back to normal,' SWR said in a statement.
The passengers were allowed to board the trains with face masks while ensuring physical distancing and other precautions.
After Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa recommended resumption of intra-state services in the state, the Railways approved running of four trains - two each from Bengaluru to Belagavi and Mysuru, the statement said.
'We have opened reservation counters at major stations across Bengaluru. Ticket booking can be done from these booking offices now. All are advised to ensure social distancing and wearing of mask,' it said.
Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi was instrumental in resumption of trains in a graded manner in Karnataka, the railway statement said.
All passenger trains were suspended across the country under the national lockdown imposed to control the spread of coronavirus across the country since March 25.
Recently, Railways resumed passenger train operations with 15 pairs of special trains from New Delhi to different parts of the country while 100 pairs of specials are scheduled to begin operations from June 1.
Intra-state bus services have also been allowed in Karnataka, where total number of COVID-19 cases has crossed 1,700. PTI GMS RS VS VS