The Indian Railways will gradually resume operations from Tuesday as the country eases its coronavirus lockdown.
The country reported 4,213 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, its biggest single-day spike. India has had more than 67,000 cases, including 2,206 deaths.
The rise in infections comes on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet various state heads to discuss the country’s lockdown exit strategy.
India’s train network, closed in late March when a strict nationwide lockdown was implemented, will be the first mode of transport to resume in the country of 1.3 billion people.
Passengers would have to wear masks and undergo health screenings before being permitted to board, the railway ministry has said. Only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed on trains, which will make fewer stops than usual.
The announcement comes after the government arranged for trains to transport thousands of migrant workers stranded in Indian cities back to their homes.
The railway system is often described as India’s lifeline, transporting 23 million people across the vast subcontinent each day, some 8.4 billion passengers each year.
India’s 54-day coronavirus lockdown is expected to end on May 17.