BHUBANESWAR: When 38-year-old Gorakhpur native boarded Rajdhani Express to return home his happiness knew no bounds.
He was stranded here due to the lockdown. “I am returning to my home. Thanks to the Indian Railways for making this arrangement. I will get down at Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction,” he said.
After a gap of nearly seven weeks, the first Special AC Express left for New Delhi from Bhubaneswar at 10 am on Wednesday with 527 passengers while around 400 more boarded en-route from selected stations.
The 17-coach fully air conditioned train with one First AC, two AC two-tier and 11 three-tier coaches arrived at the station nearly two hours prior to the scheduled departure.
Apart from Bhubaneswar, the train had only one stoppage at Balasore in the State.
Those who had a confirmed ticket were allowed into the station. The passengers boarded the train only after proper thermal scanning with strict adherence to social distancing and use of masks.
Railway personnel made special arrangements for passengers, including marking of social distancing spaces so that passengers could move forward in an orderly manner by maintaining proper distance as mandated.
Senior officers of Khurda Road Division of East Coast Railway (ECoR) led by Additional Divisional Railway Manager Ashok Kumar supervised the entire process.
Elaborate security arrangements were made all over the station area and foot operated hand sanitizers were provided at the entry gate.
“All the passengers appeared to be in an enthusiastic mood while boarding the train comfortably. Tickets were booked online through IRCTC portal and all tickets were sold in one hour,” said a railway spokesperson.
Passengers were asked to bring their own food and blankets for reasons of convenience as no bedroll linen was provided inside the train. Only asymptomatic passengers were allowed to board the train after thermal screening.
OSRTC resumes bus service
Bhubaneswar: Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) on Wednesday resumed its bus service between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack for government employees after partial relaxation of lockdown norms. A special bus carrying 20 passengers from Cuttack reached Bhubaneswar in the morning.
The bus that started from CDA in Cuttack halted at different places including Badambadi, Acharya Vihar and AG Square before reaching Heads of Departments building in the Capital.
The bus was sanitised and commuters were asked to wear masks prior to the journey. Sources said bus will operate during regular office timing and its fare has been fixed at Rs 30.
The bus was allowed to ply between the Twin Cities after Government relaxed the norms in the third phase of the lockdown and decided to run OSRTC buses in ‘Green zones’ across the State.
An official from OSRTC said as per Government order, buses will carry only 50 per cent passengers of their total capacity, while passengers will have to pay double the price of tickets.