No Mumbai locals from March 23 to March 31Updated: Mar 23, 2020 01:05 IST
In an unprecedented move, Mumbai’s lifeline — its local trains— will not operate from Sunday midnight till March 31, while Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announced stricter restrictions, including section 144, which will put the state under a virtual lockdown till the end of the month as it fights the coronavirus.
The railway ministry’s decision to shut down local trains on the Central and Western Railway for nine days is the longest period for the “city that never sleeps”. The previous longest was during the July 26, 2005 deluge when services were halted for 72 hours. Nearly 80 lakh people use the suburban trains every day.
“The discussion for stopping local trains has been happening for some time now. As cases of coronavirus started rising in the city, the railway ministry and state were looking for possible alternatives for the movement of essential service staff. Only after a detailed discussion, a decision was taken,” said a senior railway official who was part of the meetings with the state government.
“In recent times, this is the longest period the local trains will not be operational. Train services are not being operational in order to strengthen precautions against coronavirus,” said Shivaji Sutar, chief public relation officer, Central Railway (CR).
Passenger associations welcomed the decision. “The move will cause inconvenience to those staying to the north of the city. However, the spread of the virus is on the rise and the local trains carry a lot of passengers. The decision to shut down train services will help curb the spread,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad.