LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday allowed the Pakistan Railways to resume 30 passenger trains (15-Up and 15-Down) from Wednesday (tomorrow) after the Minister for Railways met him and apprised him of the growing transport-related issues in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The countrywide passenger train service was suspended on March 25 due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“I had a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan today and finally he allowed us to resume a limited operation of 30 trains from May 20,” Sheikh Rashid confirmed to Dawn.
“During the meeting, I assured the PM that we will run the trains under the standard operating procedures and precautionary measures related to Covid-19.”
He said the PR plan in this regard had also been cleared by a committee on command and control.
Earlier, the minister told a news conference in Islamabad if the situation remained favourable during these next 10 days, all the 142 passenger trains would be in operation.
Online booking only; Rashid seeks Sindh’s cooperation
“I may decide myself about the full train service resumption across the country from June 1 if situation remains under control. Countrywide passenger train service was suspended on March 25 due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Shaikh Rashid said he had no difference with any province on the issue of resuming train service, however, he sought cooperation of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for smooth train service from the province.
Since the passenger train operation will help the citizens to travel to various destinations to celebrate Eid with their loved ones, the department says that the passengers who had already got their seats booked online would be given priority to travel.
“We appeal to the passengers to follow the SOPs and maintain social distance and travel only when required direly. Moreover, booking in the trains would be made only through online ticketing service, while booking offices would remain closed. The booking for each train would be closed at 60 per cent occupancy,” said the PR headquarters’ spokesperson in a press release.
The spokesperson said the PR would ensure installation of sanitizer walk-through gates at entrances of the railway stations, and passengers would be allowed to enter one hour before the departure of a train. Family members and friends would not be allowed to enter stations to see off their relatives. The 200 meters area around railway stations would be out of bounds for irrelevant persons.
“We request the passengers to wear masks, use sanitizers, gloves and soap,” she added.
On the other hand, the PR has warned that in case of violation of aforementioned SOPs, a passenger would initially be fined Rs500, and Rs1,000 on next violation and in case of third violation, such a passenger might be off-loaded at the next station, the spokesperson said.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2020