Local trains were not jam-packed on the first day of formal resumption of the suburban service on Sunday.
Around 640 trains chugged out from Sealdah and some 350 from Howrah on Sunday, said an official of Eastern Railway.
In the morning, the trains headed for Sealdah and Howrah were far busier than those that left the stations for suburbs.
But the crowd is going to go up from Monday, posing social distancing challenges, said railway officials. The number of trains will also go up from Monday.
The suspension of local trains — from May 6, because of Covid — had largely been on paper over the past few months.
Both Sealdah and Howrah divisions had already been running hundreds of “staff special trains”, meant for essential service providers but used by hundreds of thousands of suburban passengers.
The rush from the suburbs forced railway officials to increase the number of special trains. The Sealdah division, for example, had been running over 600 staff special trains every day until the formal resumption. The usual pre-pandemic daily fleet at the Sealdah suburban division comprised a little over 900 trains.
“We had already been running a majority of our fleet in the guise of staff special trains,” said an official of the Sealdah division. “The number of trains will go up to 820 from Monday and 870 over the next few days.”
The Sealdah suburban section witnessed around 20 lakh passengers every day before the pandemic. But over the past few months, the number had been hovering between 10 and 12 lakh. Officials hope the increase in the number of trains over the next few days will help distribute the crowd.
The state government has allowed resumption of local trains with “50 per cent seating capacity”. But enforcement of pandemic protocols will largely be dependent on individual passengers, officials conceded.
“We do not expect the passenger count to shoot up suddenly. The increase in the number of trains will help crowd control, but only marginally. The real challenge will come when schools and colleges reopen from November 16,” said an official of Eastern Railway.