Mumbai: Here's the news that most of Mumbai was waiting for and it's not just about the Union Budget: Ten months on, the lifeline of the city, her local trains, will chug back into the lives of the public, starting from February 1, with terms and conditions, as the coronavirus menace is yet to be stamped out entirely.
On the heels of the Maharashtra government proposing the resumption of local train services for all commuters on Friday, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, also announced that local train services in Mumbai would resume for all from February 1.
"My dear Mumbai residents, for your convenience, Mumbai local trains will start from February 1," Goyal tweeted in Hindi. He further added, there were three time periods when the public could board trains -- from the start of the day's services to 7am; 12pm to 4pm and from 9pm to the end of the day.
In another tweet, the minister said, ‘‘As per the orders of Maharashtra Government, Mumbai local trains will run from 7am to 12pm and 4pm to 9 pm only for essential service staff and at this time, these services will not be available for general passengers.’’
"I urge all of you to follow all the necessary rules and guidelines related to coronavirus during the journey. Any kind of negligence can become a problem for us and others as well. If you are safe, then everyone travelling with you will be safe," Goyal said.
Earlier, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray gave the 'all clear' for the resumption of trains for all. Thereafter, in a letter to the Central and Western Railways, the Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar asked the Chief General Managers of Western and Central Railways to allow all categories of public to travel on trains, as per the schedule.
Last week, The Free Press Journal had reported that a decision to allow the public to travel on trains was imminent, after Thackeray met with railway officials.
'Special' local train services were resumed for emergency and essential services staff in June last year. Later on, the authorities permitted women to travel in locals during the non-peak hours.
With the addition of 204 special suburban services on Friday, currently, the two railway authorities are operating 2,985 services, about 95 per cent of the total 3,141 services, on Mumbai's suburban network. Before the pandemic struck, the Central Railway was operating 1,774 suburban services daily, while the Western Railway operated 1,367.
The state government circular on local trains further said all establishments would be requested to stagger their work schedules so that employees could suitably travel to work
Sumit Thakur, chief public relations officer, WR, said they had received approval from the Railway Ministry, to resume local train services for everyone from February 1. WR authorities have decided on almost all entry and exit points, escalators and elevators for the commuters. “We are deciding how to handle the crowd at railway stations, following which we will be mainly focused on the entry and exit points at the stations. We are yet to decide how many escalators or elevators will be operational from February 1,” he said.
According to CR officials, they will only be running 95 per cent of suburban services, as a decision on resuming all services is yet to be taken. Thirty-one entry and exit points will be opened along with all the foot overbridges, escalators and elevators for the commuters. “Our main focus will be crowd management at all the stations, as we are still running 95 per cent of services. We have directed railway staff to monitor every station from February 1 and all restricted entry and exit points will be opened,” he said.