Guwahati, Monday, October 5, 2020
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Passengers’ body seeks resumption of local, suburban train services
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Oct 4 - The Assam Rail Passengers’ Association (ARPA) has demanded resumption of services of local and suburban trains in the State.

 “The continuation in the suspension of local and suburban services has caused misery to regular commuters. Operations of long-distance Mail and Express trains have been gradually resumed. However, the local and suburban services continue to remain cancelled. Such trains are mostly used by employees, small traders and other regular passengers. Absence of these services is forcing such people to rely on buses and other forms of road transport, which are more expensive,” said ARPA secretary Dipankar Sharma.

Operations of local and suburban trains have remained suspended since the commencement of the first nationwide lockdown in late March.

“The Central government is now putting emphasis on reviving economic activities and as a part of it, inter-state and intra-state movement of goods and individuals has been made hassle-free. Under such circumstances, there is no valid reason to keep local train services suspended. People like us are facing a lot of problems due to this. The railway is the most economic mode of transportation. For people belonging to the low-income groups, as well as those who have lost their jobs or witnessed their earnings go down due to the pandemic and its resultant economic downturn, train travel is the most feasible one. Buses and private transport vehicles in Assam are charging exorbitant rates these days. People from Bongaigaon, Nalbari, Barpeta and Baihata Chariali, among other places, who travel to and from Guwahati daily are the worst affected,” Sharma said.

He said ARPA has sent petitions to the Governor and the Chief Secretary in this regard.

“We have requested that the State government take up the matter with the Railway authorities. In Mumbai, local trains have resumed operations. In Delhi and Kolkata, metro services have been restored. These big cities are COVID-19 hotspots and yet local and metro train services have been restarted. Likewise, local and suburban services in Assam should also be resumed, if necessary in a gradual manner. Adequate safety and health protocols can be put in place. One can safely assume that footfall inside compartments of local trains here will be lesser than the crowd we witness these days at Fancy Bazar or Jalukbari,” said the ARPA secretary.

Meanwhile, on being contacted, a senior NFR official said, “Local train services remain cancelled across the country, barring Mumbai and Kolkata. We can resume operation of local and suburban trains only after receiving clearance from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.”

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