Trains to operate at 50% of passenger capacity from January 15

Tickets for half of the total seats will be issued online

The Bangladesh Railway has decided to operate trains at half their capacity from January 15 in an effort to ensure social distancing during train journeys as Covid-19 cases are on the rise in the country.

The authorities also brought about some changes in the issuing and booking of tickets, reports UNB.

The changes are:

• Issuance of tickets for inter-city trains at half of their capacity for ensuring social distancing.

• Half of the tickets will be issued from counters while the rest will be online.

• Issuance of standing tickets from platforms will remain suspended.

• All existing quotas for railway staff except emergency ones will remain suspended until further notice.

• Ensuring the use of masks by all passengers while issuing tickets and travelling.

• Catering services and supply of bedding services will continue subject to strict adherence to health guidelines.

Earlier in the day, Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan said it would not be possible for trains to start operating at 50% capacity from Thursday as tickets for that date had already been sold in advance.

He was speaking at an event at Railway Bhaban in Dhaka. 

On Monday, the government imposed restrictions on public movement and other activities, such as operating public transport at half capacity, amid growing concerns over the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The Cabinet Division issued the notification on Monday which will take effect on January 13 and will remain in force until further notice.

Buses, launches and trains must operate at half capacity and drivers as well as their assistants must have Covid-19 vaccination certificates, according to the notification.

The government imposed the curbs to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check. Bangladesh has been witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases for a couple of weeks. 

The health authorities reported 2,231 new cases at an 8.53% infection rate in the 24 hours to Monday morning.

A daily test positivity rate of over 5% is a cause for concern for any country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new set of pandemic restrictions are:

• People have to wear masks in all public places, including shopping malls, markets, hotels, and restaurants. Otherwise, they will face legal action.

• Masks are mandatory outdoors, including offices. The government will operate mobile courts to ensure compliance with health guidelines.

• People must also show vaccine certificates for dining in restaurants and to stay in hotels.

• Students aged above 12 will not be allowed to attend in-person classes after 15 January unless they are vaccinated.

• Screening facilities at land, sea and airports have to be increased. Crew members will not be allowed to leave ships while only drivers will be allowed to enter the country on trucks through the land ports.

• Public transport, including buses, trains and launches will have to carry passengers at half capacity while inoculation is a must for transport drivers and helpers. The authorities concerned will issue separate guidelines in this regard.

• In-bound passengers have to show vaccination certificates and take antigen tests upon arrival.

• Imams will have to raise awareness about following the coronavirus health rules, such as physical distancing, during sermons at Friday prayers.

• The Health Ministry will ramp up activities to raise awareness about booster shots of the vaccines with the help of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

• All kinds of open-air gatherings, including social, political and religious events, will remain banned until further notice.

• Local administration will take necessary steps if any special circumstances arise anywhere.