Soon the general public will be able to travel in special suburban services operated by the Central and Western Railway regarding which the Maharashtra Government has written to the General Managers (GMs) of both railways on October 28 for the resumption of local trains for non-essential passengers.
Moreover, they have also proposed staggered timings for essential and non-essential staff. Railway officials said they have received the letter and further decisions will be taken based on meetings which will be done by the Ministry of Railways, officials from the government and railway GMs.
An order issued by the Secretary of Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation Department on Tuesday stated, “The State is looking to open up the local train services to the general public while ensuring adherence to the following of all COVID 19 protocols. In order to ensure that this is done in a staggered manner," read the statement.
“It is requested that local train services should be resume for the general public with a valid ticket or pass from morning first local to 7.30 am and again from 11 pm to 4 pm and then from 8 pm until the last local of the day. Moreover, there should be a special ladies train after every one hour. However, the date for allowing non-essential passengers has not been decided,” QR codes will not be required for ladies travelling during the said time period,” the order read.
An order issued by Secretary Kishor Raje Nimbalkar stated that the order is valid for both Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Moreover, the proposed time schedule would require increasing the frequency of local trains to meet the demand of above-proposed commuters. It is requested that the Railways may kindly give their inputs on the above proposed time schedule at the earliest.
Senior Railway officials said they are ready to resume the local train services for everyone but before that they need to get approval from the Minister of Railways. “Discussion in this regard will be held with the state government to finalise the modalities. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will also look into the issue and will submit our opinions or inputs to the State Government Authorities to finalize the necessary modalities in view of COVID- 19 pandemic and convey the same to railways,” he said.
Central and Western Railway authorities along with passenger unions suggested the change in the office hours to reduce crowding inside local train compartments.
“The government is concerned and wants to permit everyone to travel by local trains. We suggested the change in shift times until the coronavirus pandemic lasts. The change in office hours will drastically reduce overcrowding. The state government can only ask the private sector companies to implement change in the office hours.” said Lata Argade, secretary, Suburban Railway Passenger Association.