2.6 million people are booked to travel in June on interstate trains as India eases lockdown

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Passengers wait in queues as they arrive at the railway station in New Delhi

Long queues stretched outside railway stations in major cities in India on Monday as authorities eased a nationwide lockdown despite a record daily spike in coronavirus cases, AFP reports.

Rail services, apart from the movement of some essential cargo, were abruptly halted in late March ahead of efforts to contain the virus that froze almost all economic activity, putting millions out of work overnight.

But as New Delhi tried to get the economy moving again, officials reported 8,392 fresh coronavirus infections – the steepest daily increase yet – taking the toll to more than 190,000 cases with over 5,000 dead.

At least 149,000 passengers were expected to board trains on Monday as Indian Railways ramped up the number of journeys from 30 to 200.

Almost 2.6 million people are booked to travel in June on interstate trains – a network which normally carries over 20 million passengers a day, the railway ministry said.