Kolkata, Nov 12 (PTI) Eastern Railway authorities on Thursday said they will increase its suburban train services to 'almost 100 per cent' of its normal count to cope with the rush of passengers during morning and evening peak hours.
ER's Principal Chief Operations Manager U K Bal said that in view of the rush of passengers during office hours, it will increase its time-tabled suburban train services in both Howrah and Sealdah divisions to 'almost 100 per cent' during peak hours.
Following a meeting among the Eastern and South Eastern Railway authorities and officials of the West Bengal government, the zonal railways have agreed to augment its services 'as far as possible' to increase passenger comfort and to reduce the possibilities of contracting COVID-19, state chief secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay said.
'We will give all lateral support services, they will augment their railway services,' Bandopadhyay told newspersons following the meeting at Bhabani Bhavan, the state police headquarters, here.
'From our experience of running trains on November 11, the first day after resumption of local train services, we have seen that surge of passengers is occurring during office hours and as such we will increase service to at least 95 per cent of time-tabled trains. We will try to make it almost 100 per cent in morning and evening peak time,' Bal said.
Suburban train services of Eastern and South Eastern Railway resumed in the state on Wednesday after more than seven months.
Eastern Railway, which carries the bulk of suburban passengers here, served 10 lakh passengers on Wednesday in Howrah and Sealdah division, whereas in normal time it carries 30 lakh passengers on a weekday, running a total of 1,315 services, the PCOM said.
Though it had earlier been decided to operate 202 trains in Howrah division, 100 more EMU local services were run on Wednesday for maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols in view of the passenger rush during office hours, Bal said.
'In normal times, an EMU local of ER carries 2,200 passengers during peak hours, but on Wednesday each carried an average of 1,200 passengers in that period,' Bal said.
The number of passengers is lower than usual since educational institutions are closed, he said.
South Eastern Railway, which is running a total 81 services daily, is having an occupancy of 35 per cent of its carrying capacity on an average, additional general manager of the zonal railway Anupam Sharma said.
During peak hours, occupancy is between 53 and 58 per cent, he said.
'As and when necessary, we will augment services to ensure that social distancing is maintained,' Sharma said.
West Bengal Chief Minister On Wednesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged the Railway authorities to run more suburban trains to avoid overcrowding which will put passengers at a risk of contracting COVID-19.
Passengers crowded local trains during the peak hours on Thursday morning with little or no regard for COVID-19 safety protocols. PTI AMR MM MM