West Bengal govt writes to railways for resuming suburban train services

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Kolkata, Oct 31 (PTI) The West Bengal government has written to the Eastern Railway (ER) seeking discussions for plying of a few pairs of suburban trains daily observing the COVID-19 regulations.

'GOWB is concerned to see the use of unquiet means to disperse passengers in need at railway platforms and has written a letter to railway authorities for discussions towards plying of a few pairs of trains..,' the state home department said in a tweet.

'In the morning and afternoon hours for general commuters at large on observance of physical distancing norms and public health protocol,' it said in a series of tweets and shared the letter written by Home Secretary H K Dwivedi to the ER general manager.

A letter by the government to the Eastern Railway general manager Suneet Sharma read, 'Government of West Bengal has all along been keen to maintain/resume normal transportation services for all sections of the society. As you are kindly aware, our skylines are open for national and international flights, our assistance has been rendered for movement of special trains in, from and to the state. Our busses are giving robust public services to commuters at large.

'In the meantime, you have since resumed suburban train services. It is painful to notice that you are running these trains for your staffs only, while many other sections of governmental service providers and members of the society at large are denied these services,' the letter said.

Noting that the state government has helped the railway authorities to run metro trains peacefully and efficiently, the home secretary urged the Eastern Railways to run a few pair of suburban trains daily.

'Indeed, rather than taking resort (resorting) to unquiet means, we could and discuss how a few pairs of trains could be run locally in the morning and in the afternoon hours to serve the general commuters at large,' read the letter written by Additional Chief Secretary H K Dwivedi.

The decision to write to Eastern Railways came in the backdrop of violence at Howrah station after the railway police chased away some commuters as they tried to break open the locked gate of the Howrah-Burdwan Staff Special Train at the station on Saturday.

A spokesman of Eastern Railway said some of the commuters boarded the train which was meant for railway employees during the COVID-19 time as regular train services are yet to resume.

However, as these commuters were forced to disembark by the railway police, they regrouped and tried to break open the gates to board the compartments again, he said.

The commuters, numbering around hundred, were then chased away by a joint team of the Government Railway Police and Railway Protection Force from the platform, the spokesman said.

The commuters, however, alleged the railway police resorted to unprovoked lathi charge on them and herded them away from the station platform.

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