The Maharashtra government proposed but Railways has disposed. The state government, had on Friday, requested the Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) to allow all ladies to travel in local trains from October 17, between 11am and 3pm and from 3pm until the last service for the day in Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). However, both CR and WR have conveyed to the state government this will not be possible before they get approval from their respective competent authorities.
So, all those female commuters eager to resume travel on a suburban local must dig in their heels for a bit more. Currently, only essential service providers and personnel approved jointly by the state government and railways are being allowed to travel by train.
According to railway officials, there are over 24 lakh female passengers or 30 per cent of commuters who travel by local trains and had the government decided to allow female passengers to commute, they would have discussed the matter with all the stakeholders, as had been done earlier.
“Now, if tomorrow only 10,000 female travellers come to the station for tickets, the situation will get worse. The call should have been taken in a well-planned manner. We will accept the request if it is approved by the Railway Minister,” a railway official said.
In a letter to the CR and WR general managers, Relief and Rehabilitation Department Secretary Kishor Raje Nimbalkar had written, “It is requested that local train services may be made available to all ladies from 11am to 3pm and again, from 7pm onwards till end of local services for the day with effect from October 17 in Mumbai and MMR region. During the said period, entry may be allowed to all ladies having valid tickets and to all emergency staff as well. QR codes will not be required for ladies travelling during the said time period.’’
However, the WR, in its reply to Nimbalkar expressed its inability to allow ladies to travel in local trains unless approved by the Railway Board. ‘’The proposal sent by you will be referred to the Railway Board for approval. Further course of action and date of permission for ladies passengers to travel will be decided accordingly.
WR further suggested “a joint meeting between Railway officials and state government should be organised to work out the modalities’’.
Nimbalkar had, in his letter, also said, local train services to personnel from all sectors notified as emergency services till date shall continue, as being provided currently, for the entire day. However, he has asked the CR and WR general managers to increase the frequency of local trains in keeping with the increased demand.
From October 15, the CR has increased the number of suburban services to 481 for its staff, as notified by the Maharashtra government, while the WR has begun running 194 additional trains. The increased frequency of services will help commuters travel following all Covid-19 protocols, including social distancing.
As reported by The Free Press Journal, there has been no word from the state government so far, on full-scale resumption of suburban services for all commuters.
Under its Mission Begin Again, the state government had further relaxed the lockdown and in its new guidelines issued on October 14, allowed the reopening of the metro, government and private libraries, local weekly bazaars and organisation of business-to-business exhibitions from October 15.
(With inputs by Swapnil Mishra)