After authorities moved to normalise bus services, the railway authorities have also undertaken steps to normalise operation of trains despite the continued rise of new infections and deaths from Covid-19.
Bangladesh Railway (BR) will restart selling tickets for local, mail and commuter trains at stations from September 5 as it is going to resume operation of 19 more routes of passenger trains from that day.
Although all tickets of intercity services will be sold online and through the mobile app, all tickets of local, mail and commuter trains would be sold from stations from September 5, Shafiqur Rahman, director (traffic) of BR, told The Daily Star yesterday.
However, BR will continue to operate trains at half capacity, he added. BR issued a set of directives in this regard yesterday.
Although BR resumed operation of passenger trains from May 31, it decided not to sell tickets at stations to maintain health safety guidelines.
The 19 routes will bring the total number of routes in operation to 69 as the state-run transport agency is gradually increasing trains in its fleet.
Meanwhile, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said the government is considering going back to the previous bus fare on two conditions: every passenger has to wear a mask and bus operators would not be allowed to take standing passengers.
“A decision in this regard will be announced soon,” Quader said.
He was speaking at a views-exchange meeting over video conference from his residence with officials of the Roads and Highways Department (RHD), Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) of Cumilla region.
The developments came as the death toll from Covid-19 infections crossed the 4,000 mark yesterday. Besides, 2,545 people tested positive for the highly transmissible virus in 24 hours on Monday, taking the total number of infected people close to 3 lakh.
According to the BR’s directives, passengers would be able to collect tickets of intercity trains 10 days before the trip, which had been resumed to five days following resumption of services on May 31. No standing tickets would be sold for the intercity trains.
All trains will make stops at Airport, Joydebpur and Narsingdi stations, and Kalni Express at Bhairab Station from September 10.
The authorities had ceased stopping at those stations as the stations had no fences to bar passengers from travelling without tickets, a BR official said. The authorities have installed fences in those stations, he added.
The authorities are also going to reintroduce some facilities such as the food service and blankets and pillows for passengers travelling on the AC berth overnight. The authorities had not offered these services when operations resumed.
BR had suspended operation of passenger trains on March 24 to curb the spread of Covid-19.
BRTA on Thursday wrote to the road transport and bridges ministry to take necessary steps regarding transport owners’ proposal to operate buses at full capacity at previous fares.
The ministry yesterday sent the proposal to the cabinet division, an official of the ministry said.
As per a circular of the division issued on August 3, public transport would continue to operate on a limited scale till August 31, so an approval from the division would be required for normal operations of public transport, the official said.Following demands by transport leaders, the government hiked bus fares by 60 percent from June 1 on the condition that buses would carry passengers at half capacity and follow other health safety guidelines.
But complaints on the breach of the aforementioned conditions kept pouring in.