Bangladesh Railway (BR), set to resume train operations from today on a limited scale, started selling all tickets online from yesterday afternoon, to ensure health safety of passengers and staffers.
Besides, no food would be supplied inside trains, and passengers will have to arrive at the station one hour ahead of the schedule to help check body temperatures.
BR would sell 50 percent of the tickets for each train to ensure social distancing, and all trains would be operated following the existing schedule. Eight intercity trains would start operations from today while 11 more will be added from June 3.
Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan told reporters about the measures after holding a meeting with officials at Rail Bhaban yesterday.
The minister came up with the operation plan two days after the government announced to open public transport, rail and rivers on limited scale from today, over a two months after a shutdown enforced from March 26 to contain spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Usually, BR sold 50 percent tickets from counters and 50 percent online, but now all tickets would be sold online for health safety reasons, the minister said.
But, BR, as a government agency, would not increase train fares although it would carry limited passengers, he said.
Sujan, however, expressed apprehensions that railway may face huge pressure of passengers if the government increased bus fares as demanded the by bus owners.
"All we are doing now is on trial basis. We will take further decisions about operation of trains following. government decision after June 15," he said.
The minister also said all the passengers have to wear face masks and maintain all health guidelines. All tickets for visitors and month tickets have been suspended, he added.
He said no trains would stop at Airport, Joydebpur and Narsingdi stations. None would be allowed to travel without tickets, he added.
People will be able to buy tickets five days ahead of their journey date, Sujan said.
The eight trains which would start operation from today are: Chattogram-bound Subarna Express and Sonar Bangla Express; Sylhet-bound Kalni Express; Panchagarh-bound Panchagarh Express;Chapainawabganj-bound Banalata Express; Lalmonirhat-bound Lalmoni Express; Khulna-bound Chitra Express; and another train Paharika/Udayan express which operates between Chattogram and Sylhet.
The trains which would start operation from June 3, are Teesta Express, Benapole Express, Nilsagar Express, Rupsha Express, Kapotakkho Express, Modhumoti Express, Meghna Express, Kishoreganj Express, Upakul Express, Brahmaputra Express, and Kurigram Express.
Railways Ministry Secretary Salim Reza and Bangladesh Railway Director General Md Shamsuzzaman, among others, were present at the press briefing.