The Indian Railways is all set to partially resume its train services from Tuesday after almost one and half months of hiatus due to Covid-19 lockdown in the country. As a response to the booking announcements made on 11 May, more than Rs 16 crore worth of tickets have been sold and around 80,000 people are expected to board these 15 special trains. D. Roopa, the Inspector-General of Police (Railway) in Bangalore, talks to The Daily Guardian about plans made by the Indian Railways to curb Covid-19 spread. Excerpts:
Q. Rail services have resumed today. What kind of challenges are you prepared for?
A. The government has taken a decision to allow movement of passengers via train in a very phased manner. It begins on Tuesday and we are here to facilitate the process. The seats have been marked to ensure social distancing. About 1,068 people have been allowed in Rajdhani from Bengaluru. This is the only train that will be plying. We have ensured water bottles, biscuits and fruits for passengers as no other shops will be open. People will not have to bring their own food; masks will be provided for 2 to 3 days of travel. Whoever comes here to see off the person travelling, we have told them to bring minimum one driver.
Q. The police are already preoccupied with dealing with Covid-19 all across the country. This particular initiation by the government will put undue pressure on the country. What would you say on that?
A. Not really, as there was a huge demand of people who wanted to travel and were stuck.
Q. Doctors feel that the A/C coaches will be the new carrier of this virus. How do you respond to that?
A. A total of 1,068 seats have been sold already though the middle berth will not be filled. This allows social distancing within the boogies. We urge that only those in a state of grave emergencies should travel, as this is the purpose of starting train services. Only if it is essential, the government here has taken the decision to quarantine everyone who comes here whether it’s self-quarantine at home or in the hospital, or sent to the institute. Bangalore is still a red zone, 76% of them are asymptomatic, they do not show any symptoms. Therefore, these precautions are essential.
Q. What are things the Railways has been doing vis-à-vis cleanliness and fumigation?
A. Sanitisation has to be maintained, there was a press release also which said sanitisers will be provided at the railway stations and inside the trains well. I advise people to carry their own sanitisers when they come and board a train. Where people can sit has been marked. It is all very clear; we have also gotten the trains cleaned. No extra person is allowed to come in, only people who have the ticket can board the train.