No Crowding, Clean Railway Stations: These Photos Remind Us That Some Things Shouldn’t Go Back to “Normal”

Social Commentary

No Crowding, Clean Railway Stations: These Photos Remind Us That Some Things Shouldn’t Go Back to “Normal”

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

For the first time in nearly two months, railway stations partially opened their doors to passengers, as part of the lockdown easing measures. The stations, however, as revealed on social media over the last couple of days, are a far cry from what they used to be.

Unusually clean and empty platforms greeted the few passengers who had booked online tickets up to seven days in advance. Clips showed the travellers maintaining the requisite distance at New Delhi station as they stood in long snaking queues.

The first few trains to leave from the national capital had just over a thousand passengers, reports said, a number that’s usually hosted in a single compartment of the average Mumbai local. Each of them were screened at the entrance, where they had been asked to report up to 90 minutes in advance. Masks were compulsory.

In possibly another first, passengers on the train bound for Howrah, were reported to have praised the arrangements made by the Railways. They also said proper social distancing had been maintained. Images from stations in other parts of the country indicated that they were being sanitised as well before resuming services.

Apart from having to make their way through the IRCTC website, passengers were also asked to bring their own sheets, blankets and food. According to a circular issued by the Railways Ministry, only asymptomatic individuals will be allowed to travel for now.

The Railways had earlier announced that it would start operating special trains from May 12 onwards and that booking would start a day before.

According to reports, tickets for all these trains were sold out on the same evening. These special trains are now set to ferry 1.7 lakh passengers back home.

As we enter the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown, it’s clear that things are not going to go back to normal overnight. However, in this case, we’re sure many seasoned train travellers will hope that things don’t go back to normal at all.