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Passengers crowded pantry to buy food and water disregarding social distancing norms, says traveller on Ahmedabad-New Delhi train

NEW DELHI: There was complete disregard for physical distancing rules on the first train that reached New Delhi from Ahmedabad on Wednesday since the resumption of railway services as passengers crowded the pantry to buy dry food and water bottles during dinner time, according to a traveller.

Packaged dry food items such as biscuits, bhujia and chocolates were made available in the pantry besides water bottles by the railways.

But passengers seated in coaches far away from the pantry faced problems in buying food and water bottles, which resulted in crowding at the pantry van located near B-1 coach of the train number 02957 which had departed Sabarmati Railway Station at 6.30 pm on May 12 and reached Delhi at 8 am on Wednesday.

“As a crowd built up at the pantry at night, an announcement was made requesting passengers to come to the pantry one by one.

Thereafter, people made a long queue, causing inconvenience to co-passengers,” Nihar Kakkad, a student seated in B-6 coach, told PTI.

Since many had queued up for buying water bottles, a railway attendant later began to sell water in the coach itself to avoid any further crowd, he said.

Many passengers had not carried food and were forced to buy whatever was available in the pantry.

Many had carried their own linen, while some made a temporary window curtain from their towel to avoid sunlight, he added.

All seats were not fully occupied to ensure physical distancing.

In AC-3 coach, six passengers were given seats against the capacity of eight seats.

As many passengers were not Delhi residents, they were all worried about their onward journey to their hometown.

Many of the travellers were heading to neighbouring states, especially Uttar Pradesh.

“We have to travel further to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.

We have covered half the distance by train from Ahmedabad, we have to cover another half to reach home.

We don’t know whether we will get transport from Delhi but we made this journey with a hope that our Uttar Pradesh CM must have made some arrangements,” Kakkad’s co-passenger told him.

There was another passenger in the same coach who was travelling to Gorakhpur.

They had left Ahmedabad due to lack of facility in their PG accommodation and fear of rising number of COVID-19 cases in Gujarat.

“My friend could not board the train as he could not clear the screening.

He is now scared that he might have been infected.

We had booked the ticket together to go to Gorakhpur,” said the passenger.

Passengers of all age groups were travelling in the train, Kakkad said.

However, many were distressed labourers planning to make further trips to neighbouring states of Delhi, especially Uttar Pradesh.

Passengers said they underwent screening during departure and arrival.

After exiting from the New Delhi Railway Station, many passengers scrambled for transport for onward journey and were seen walking on road to nearby border cities like Mathura, as the police did not allow any passenger to stay for long at the railway station.

The Indian Railways resumed passenger train operations from May 12, initially with 15 pairs of trains, weeks after these were suspended due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

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