The West Bengal government and the Eastern and Southern Railways met again in Nabanna on Wednesday (November 4) to discuss the resumption of local train services in the state.

The railways have proposed to start with 15% services, which would mean about 200 services, in the Howrah and Sealdah division of Eastern Railway (ER) and about 30 in the Kharagpur division of South Eastern Railway (SER). This was discussed during the meeting on Wednesday.

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According to sources, local trains will be in service during office hours (morning and evening) daily. The number of trains will be minimised during the rest of the day. The local trains will not stop at every station. The trains will stop at important and big stations.

The final schedule and other related decisions will be announced on Thursday (November 5). During the meeting on Wednesday, it was decided that standing would not be allowed in the local trains. Hawkers will not be allowed inside the trains and “unnecessary gatherings” will not be allowed at the stations and platforms.

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A railway official said, “We propose to resume operations with about 15% services. The date of resumption and the standard operating procedure (SOP) will be finalized after another meeting on Thursday with the state chief secretary. The number of services will gradually be taken up to 25%. Then, nearly 330 services will be run by ER and about 45 by SER. This will happen only after the initial response is studied. Most of the services will be in the mornings and evening peak hours.”

The state wants the railways to arrange for vending machines to dispense sanitizer and masks. Railway officials have maintained that it may not be possible to distribute sanitizer and masks or carry out thermal scanning for all commuters. While those without masks will not be allowed on station premises, there will be random thermal scanning.