The Indian railways network was grinding back to life today as a gradual lifting of the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown gathered pace even as new cases surged. A strict shutdown was imposed from March 25, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has credited with keeping cases to a modest 70,000, with around 2,000 deaths.
But the lockdown has torpedoed the economy, snatching the livelihoods of tens of millions of people and hitting the poor the hardest.
Whole industries have been devastated and there are fears of food shortages, while a ban on flights has left hundreds of thousands of Indians stranded abroad.
Restrictions have been steadily eased, however, particularly in rural areas, and some trains — on a network which normally carried over 20 million passengers a day — resumed this morning. The first such train left Chennai, Tamil Nadu, for Delhi at 6:35 am.
More than 54,000 tickets for the initial 30 train services sold out online within three hours on Monday, reports said