Migrant workers deboard from a special train that arrived from Nasik during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, at Misrod railway station in Bhopal on May 02, 2020. (Photo by Gagan Nayar / AFP) (Photo by GAGAN NAYAR/AFP via Getty Images)

India to ‘gradually’ restart rail operations in lockdown easing

One of the world’s largest train networks will “gradually” restart operations from Tuesday as India eases its coronavirus lockdown, as the number of cases past 60,000 with more than 2,000 deaths.

Some 30 train journeys — 15 pairs of return trips — will run from the capital New Delhi to other cities including Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, Indian Railways said late Sunday.

“Indian Railways plans to gradually restart passenger train operations from 12th May, 2020… Thereafter, Indian Railways shall start more special services on new routes,” the railways ministry added in a statement.

“It will be mandatory for the passengers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the train.”

The vast train network, which had carried more than 20 million passengers daily, was halted in late March as India imposed a strict lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.

A limited number of services have been operating in recent days to help stranded poor, rural migrant workers who lost their jobs in the lockdown to return to their villages.

India has started to ease its lockdown, which is due to lift on May 17, but interstate public transport and domestic and international flights had so far remain grounded.

Authorities on Sunday reported 62,939 cases with 2,109 deaths, with recent days having seen record jumps.