Discussions have been on at a policy level of the government over resumption of public transport from 29 April. The Bangladesh Railway (BR) authorities too are planning to resume train service from the very day as part of early preparedness so that government instructions to resume railway service can be executed instantly.
BR sources said, passenger train services remained halted for more than two months last year due to Covid-19 restrictions. Since 31 May of that year, BR resumed services with limited operations and half of the passenger carrying capacity. In phases, inter-city railway services restarted. Finally, all the commuter railway services resumed.
However, the BR authorities are not likely to follow the 2020 style.
When the government relaxes the ongoing restrictions on public transport, BR will resume all the inter-city and some crucial commuter services. Otherwise, maintaining Covid-19 health guidelines would become difficult while managing huge loads of passengers.
On condition of anonymity, a BR official told Prothom Alo that limited operations of railway for the Eid festival-bound passengers will be problematic. “In that case, passengers will overcrowd the trains, breaching Covid-19 health guidelines. This situation will make BR questionable. That is why BR is taking preparation for resuming all the passenger services at the same time,” the official said.
Speaking on this issue, railway minister Nurul Islam told Prothom Alo on 24 April evening that road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader had hinted about resumption of public transport from 29 April. On that assumption, BR is getting preparing to resume railway services too. This is a part of early preparedness to avert problems at the eleventh hour.
“This time, BR will resume its full operation as limited operation overcrowds the railway system. Operating all the railway routes while carrying passengers at half of seating capacity will not be problematic,” he said.
As the Covid-19 transmission surged for the second time this year, the government halted train service from 5 April. Since then, railway engines have been left idle.
As part of BR’s early preparedness, BR engineers are now examining the condition of the engines and coaches, officials said.