Bangladesh Railway has decided not to expand its train service ahead of Eid-ul-Azha to avoid public gatherings amid the ongoing wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
The BR is currently operating train services despite loss as people have travelled on a limited scale during the time.Expecting a hassle-free journey by train ahead of Eid festival, people usually throng the counters at Kamalapur Railway Station in the capital to buy tickets.
Many wait for hours at the station to get the ticket soon after the beginning of sale of advance train ticket.
Ahead of festivals, Bangladesh Railway usually expands its service by adding extra trains to different destinations to ease the pressure of homebound people.
Sources at the Railway said the government will not expand its service this time considering the public safety.
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said that they would not increase the number of passenger trains ahead of the upcoming Eid festival.
“However, we have taken a decision to transport cattle amid the pandemic,” he said.Earlier, the rail services resumed with eight pair of trains on May 31 after a 66-day shutdown, enforced by the government to contain the spread of the deadly bug.
At present, some 17 pair of trains have been operating to various destinations as passengers hardly take the service due to the pandemic.
Bangladesh has so far recorded 2,151 deaths and some 168,645 people have been infected with the virus.
Sources said the Railway has incurred losses worth Tk 3 billion during the coronavirus pandemic.
BR Director General Mohammad Shamsuzzaman told the Daily Sun that they do not have any plan right now to expand train services until the government issues fresh directives.
“The number of passengers is lower than usual time due to the coronavirus crisis,” he said.
Earlier, the BR authority has decided to resume rail services on a limited scale keeping 50 percent seats off in each train to ensure social distancing.
A month after resuming operations, trains are struggling to attract passengers with almost above 30 percent of seats, out of 50 percent, going empty but the expenditure remains same, railway officials said.
The income of the BR has marked a sharp fall as sale of platform and monthly ticket and standing ticket have been closed due to the outbreak.
Divisional Commercial Officer of Dhaka M Shawkat Zamil Mohosi told the Daily Sun that usually railway earns Tk 150 to 200 million every month by selling tickets to passengers.
“Now this income is very low,” he said, adding that they do not have exact statistic of income from sale of ticket during the coronavirus crisis.
But the Railway offers a good news for the transportation of goods as the authorities will increase the number of fleet for uninterrupted supply of goods and carry cattle to different destinations ahead of the festival.