India to start limited trains as it looks to ease lockdown

India to start limited trains as it looks to ease lockdown

SeattlePI.com

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India is set to reopen some of its colossal rail network on Tuesday and run limited trains as the country looks at easing its nearly seven-week lockdown while coronavirus infections are increasing.

Special trains will depart from select big cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, and run to full capacity. Passengers will be allowed to enter stations only if they are asymptomatic and clear thermal screening; they must maintain social distancing on board and will be given hand sanitizers on entry and exit.

India’s rail, road and air services were suspended in late March as part of a nationwide lockdown. Its strictness has helped keep confirmed coronavirus infections relatively low for a population of 1.3 billion. But in recent days, as the lockdown has eased and some businesses have resumed, infections and deaths due to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, are increasing.

India has confirmed 70,756 cases of coronavirus including 2,293 deaths, but experts believe its outbreak is far greater. Almost a fifth of India’s confirmed infections are people from densely populated cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Ahmedabad, which also are major centers of economic activity.

The resumption of some train services was announced late on Sunday, and on Monday, hundreds of passengers, many of them migrant workers with luggage bags perched on their heads, lined up for transportation to a train station in Ahmedabad in western Gujarat state. In central Uttar Pradesh state, they had already gathered at a railway station.

The train network often described as India’s lifeline, totals 67,000 kilometers (42,000 miles) and carries more than 20 million passengers daily.

The lockdown immediately emptied the usually teeming railway stations. It also destroyed the livelihoods of millions of Indians...

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