Amid the worries about safe travels to and from places, the news of pressing into service 60 per cent of the country's trains provides a great relief to many. The most critical aspect of countrywide journeys at present is the maintenance of physical distance. While the long- and mid-range bus services are found in operation occasionally flouting the basic corona-related requirement, people eagerly looked forward to trains. Thus the announcement by the Bangladesh Railway (BR) to resume 84 more express, commuter, mail and local trains by mid-September is a good reason for taking heart from. The railway passengers have already witnessed the operation of all inter-city train services and some mail and commuter trains in the country. It followed the government's relaxation of public transport movements from May 31.
During the corona-prompted shutdown, all modes of transport movement between different parts of the country remained suspended. Only recently, have the authorities started reopening the rail service. It included a few inter-city trains with tickets available online. According to a recent FE report, with its latest step the BR hopes to re-launch more than 60 per cent of its trains, taking the total number to 214. That the decision has delighted passengers looking to travel by train is implied. The strict enforcement of hygiene, like the provision of carrying passengers half of a train's accommodating capacity, was warmly welcomed by the corona-conscious passengers. Experts and pandemic watchers also seem to be awaiting further hygiene-related steps the BR is expected to take during train journeys. In order to serve the people living in the greater Dhaka district, the authorities have reopened three important and busy stations. These rail stations were declared closed for more than five months in order to check passengers' rush amid the raging corona pandemic. These three and many other busy stations are notorious for their unwieldy nature.
Catering mainly to local and commuter trains, many stations have long been infamous for passengers' boarding trains without tickets, many travelling on rooftops. Law abiding and careful passengers wish they would find the BR's declared steps to deal with unruly passengers were in place. A great deal of optimism of train passengers stems from the fact that the authorities would resume all services eventually, and in phases. In spite of the apparently cautionary measures being in place for normalising the railway service in the country, a section of people remain worried. Scores of misgivings still haunt them. The track record of the country's railway passengers' behaviour during travel is not satisfying.
Forcefully occupying the seats of ticket-holding travellers, misbehaving with railway staff, mindless littering etc are some common maladies vitiating travel times. They discourage many willing travellers from undertaking train journeys, especially during Eid holidays. One hopes that against the backdrop of the dreadfully contagious nature of coronavirus, and the authorities' strict surveillance, the ill-behaved among passengers would be kept away from creating unwarranted situations. Despite competitions from luxury coaches, many people still opt for trains. The BR authorities have proved that they can operate corona-time hazard-free rail travels. The resumption of local trains might put them to a crucial test. Passengers expect them to pass it.