Facial masks are compulsory for passengers
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan has said train services will operate subject to maintaining heath guidelines, starting May 31st.
Train services were suspended by the government on March 25, to curb the Covid 19 outbreak.
“To maintain health guidelines, a limited number of trains will run and to maintain social distancing, only 50% of tickets will be sold,” Sujan said.
“Initially, only intercity train services will run,” he said, speaking to Dhaka Tribune over the telephone on Friday morning.
“For instance, instead of five trains, only two will operate on any particular route. We operated six express trains between Dhaka and Chittagong. Now, only two trains will be running,” the minister added.
“The seats are designed to maintain a gap between two passengers,” he said.
Bangladesh Railway has made facial masks compulsory for passengers and it will provide hand sanitizer onboard the coaches.
On May 31st, only eight trains will operate and another nine will run from June 3.
The Railway has already prepared its ticket counters to sell tickets following social distancing guidelines, although passengers are encouraged to buy tickets online.
Challenges of executing the rules
Executing such a plan will be challenging for the railway authorities, which the ferry services have already faced due to a huge pressure of passengers.
The railway system has poor capacity to control large numbers of people which is always noticed with rail traffic during the Eid vacations.
Now, many people are planning to head back to Dhaka from their villages following the end of Eid holidays.
However, the railways minister said: “We still cannot predict what will happen once train services resume.”
“We will observe the situation. If we cannot control the crowds, then we will set further plans in motion,” he added.
Train coaches prepared for operations are Sonar Bangla Express and Subarna Express on the Dhaka-Chittagong route, Paharika on the Dhaka-Sylhet route, Bonolota Express for Rajshahi, Chitra Express for Khulna, and the Panchagar Express and Lalmoni Express.
Apart from this, Teesta Express, Benapole Express, Nilsagar Express, Rupsa Express, Kopotakha Express, Madhumoti Express, Meghna Express, Kishorganj Express and Upakul Express will likely start operating from June 3.