· Fares will not increase
· All trains will operate
· No standing and platform tickets
· Decision on advance tickets sold yet to be made
The Bangladesh Railway (BR) has decided to operate train services at half of the passenger capacity from 15 January (Saturday) in compliance with government regulations to curb the spread of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.
Following the reduced capacity, half of the available tickets will be sold at counters and the rest will be sold online, reads a notification issued by the BR on Tuesday.
All passenger trains of the BR will be operational during this time, while fares will remain unchanged, said the transport agency's officials.
The decision came a day after the Cabinet Division announced a set of restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 effective from 13 January.
The restrictions include limiting passengers on public transports, banning all kinds of social, political, and religious gatherings in open spaces, and making mask use mandatory.
Meanwhile, in the notice the BR also postponed the sale of standing and platform tickets. The notice further directed passengers to wear masks while buying tickets at counters and travelling on the train.
The new directives come as a worry for those who had already purchased advance tickets.
Sources at the BR said that the authority had already sold a huge number of tickets for trains on different routes while those were operating at full capacity.
Responding to a question from reporters on Tuesday, Railway Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon said, "Tickets were sold five days ago. So we need to know how many tickets were sold for January 13."
It is expected that a decision in this regard will be taken once the number of tickets sold is confirmed.
Earlier on 4 January, the government announced a set of restrictions to fight the Omicron variant.
During the initial outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, passenger train operations were suspended. It resumed from July of that year at a limited scale, keeping half the seats vacant.
At present, there are 397 trains with 1,670 coaches in the railway. Of those, 104 are intercity trains.