Maharashtra plans app, colour coding to control crowd in local trains
The Maharashtra government, which plans to throw open suburban trains in Mumbai and adjoining densely populated Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) for all commuters soon in three specific time slots during the day amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19 ) outbreak, is looking at the use of technology to prevent overcrowding in trains.
Suburban trains’ non-peak hours refer to until 7.30 am, between 11 am and 4 pm and after 8 pm.
The state government is developing a web-based application (app) and planning to introduce a colour-coding mechanism while allowing the public to use the suburban trains during non-peak hours.
The state government, which had requested Western and Central Railways to allow all commuters, was in turn told by the rail authorities to use technology for crowd control.
The state government has started work on the railways’ proposal.
“We will develop the app. We are also working on the colour-coding mechanism to restrict the number of passengers in suburban trains,” said Kishor Raje Nimbalkar, secretary, relief and rehabilitation department of the state government.
An official from Mantralaya, the state secretariat, said the app would help passengers to book tickets and decide the time slot they wish to travel.
This will enable the railway authorities to issue a stipulated number of tickets in a bid to prevent overcrowding in trains. The tickets will be issued to passengers with the colour-code, specifying the time slot during which they are expected to travel.
Western and Central Railway authorities have raised concerns about their capacity. They can run 3,100 trains daily.
They have pleaded helplessness and stated that they would allow 700 commuters per train and around 22 lakh passengers daily, as compared to 70 lakh during pre-Covid-19 times.
The state government has maintained that appropriate steps are being taken to prevent overcrowding in trains.
“We have allowed 30% of private sector employees to travel by trains, which have reduced around 20 lakh daily commuters. Besides, another 20 lakh commuters have become less owing to closure of schools, colleges and other educational institutions. If the railway authorities operate at their full strength of 3,100 train services, no overcrowding will occur during peak hours. We have also suggested running a special train for women passengers every hour. The move is in line with encouraging staggered office hours. More ladies specials will help women commuters to travel during non-peak hours,” said a state government official, requesting anonymity.
He added: “We don’t want to impose more restrictions, but encourage passengers with staggered timings. Now, it’s up to the railway authorities to operate at their full strength.”
Mumbai’s guardian minister Aslam Shaikh said that the state administration would work out ways to ensure reopening of train service for all commuters at the earliest, despite the Covid-19 outbreak.