Mumbai local trains for all: Railways, state prepare for services from early 2021
Railways have begun preparations to resume suburban train services for all from early 2021, officials said, attributing it to the recent decline in Covid-19 cases in Mumbai and neighbouring areas. However, officials said a decision will only be taken after completing discussions with the government.
Mumbai’s suburban train services were suspended in March this year, under the coronavirus-enforced lockdown. From July 15, local trains resumed for those working in essential services, the specially abled and cancer patients. Women commuters and lawyers are also currently allowed to commute during stipulated time slots.
Currently, Central Railway (CR) operates 1,580 local train services daily on its main, harbour and trans-harbour lines. The Western Railway (WR) operates 1,201 local trains. During normal operations, CR ran 1,774 services, while WR operated 1,367.
“We are already operating local train services up to 90%. Discussions regarding operations of trains are on internally,” said a senior WR official.
“There has not yet been any finalisation on resumption of train services for the general public. Discussions regarding this are going on. Only after complete discussion with the state government and following coronavirus protocols, local train services will be resumed.” said a senior CR official, who did not want to be named.
Significantly, state’s minister for relief and rehabilitation Vijay Vadettiwar told the media that the state government was considering allowing suburban trains after December 31.
Passenger associations have welcomed the move and have asked railway and state authorities to resume local train services in January with implementation of change in office timings.
“Citizens are now fed up. They have to put in extra money from their pocket to travel to their workplace. Local train services should resume from January, but only after changing office timings. The earlier crowding during morning and evening rush hours cannot be repeated. Both the state and railways should work together and implement changes in office timings to avoid crowding.” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad.
The Railways has also started resuming phase-wise Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM) on its suburban railway stations to prevent crowding at ticket booking counters.
Meanwhile, passengers who are travelling on outstation trains will soon be able to travel by local trains to commute in the city, on both CR and WR. The Maharashtra government on Tuesday asked both zonal railways to permit outstation train passengers that arrive in the city to travel by local trains and reach their final destination.
Similarly, those passengers who will be travelling by outstation trains from the city will be allowed to travel by local trains and reach the train’s originating station.
The railways have sent the request for approval to the railway board.
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