The commuters who use local trains will now get the extension for their monthly, quarterly, or yearly passes from February 1 while travelling on the Western and Central Railway. However, they will be given an extension for the passes for the unused days amid lockdown. Railway officials said the regular commuters can use the monthly pass depending on the validity left following which they will be directing all the ticket checkers to not stop any commuters if their train passes had expired during the lockdown period.
Moreover, for handling the crowd during the non-peak hours, the railways will deploy additional numbers of the Railway Police Force and Government Railway Police at the railway stations where more commuters alight and board.
Sumit Thakur, CPRO, WR said since the Railway Minister has given the approval for resuming the local train services for everyone they have started with all the work and planning required to handle the crowd at the stations. “We have formed teams and sanitisation of cabins and seating areas is being done. We will be increasing entry and exit points, ticket booking counters with time. Our staff including Railway Police Force and Government Railway Police officials will be available to regulate the crowd,” he said.
Thakur further said the passengers whose train pass were expired during the lockdown period will be given an extension depending on the unused days of the pass. “We will be giving extension to all the pass holders whose validity expired amid nationwide lockdown and were not able to use it. Following which we directed everyone to not stop any pass holders whose passes expired during the lockdown period,” he added.
Anjalee Singh, a banker who travels from Kalyan to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus had a quarterly first-class pass, which she had renewed just before the lockdown. Singh said, “The railways have no option but to give us the lost days. Happy that they are thinking along those lines and I'm sure the railways will reimburse us for those lost travel days accordingly.”
Senior railway officials from the Central Railway said they have also geared with the preparation to handle the crowd from February 1. Following which all the restricted entry and exit points will be open, ATVM will be made functional and the Identity cards of the commuters travelling during peak hours will be checked. “Our main focus will be handling crowd management due to which we have strictly directed all the railway staff to monitor the movement of passengers at all the stations during non-peak hours especially. Moreover, we request the non-essential commuters to not travel during peak hours and follow the time slot given by the state government,” he said.
Moreover, they appealed to all passengers to adhere to COVID-19 norms and protocols in order to combat the virus and ensure smooth operations of trains.
Passenger associations said the stipulated time should be increased for the benefit of those who have long commutes between their homes and offices. “The opening up of local trains for the general public is a good move by the government. However, people staying far away will take two hours in a one-way commute. The timings should be altered and staggered office timings should be introduced by the Maharashtra government,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad.