Mumbai: There is finally a new deadline for the full-scale resumption of Mumbai's local trains. Maharashtra Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar on Thursday said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was positive about resuming train services for everyone in the first week of January.
"Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is positive about starting Mumbai's local train service for all in the first week of January. He is of the opinion that local services should be resumed for all in the first eight days of January,” he noted.
“Mumbai's suburban train services were closed to the public in March when the lockdown was imposed, to prevent the spread of corona. Gradually unlocking measures were taken. Initially, only employees from essential services were allowed to travel on local trains. Later, lawyers and women commuters were allowed to do so, with adherence to all Covid-19 protocols,’’ said Wadettiwar.
At present, Central Railway (CR) is operating 1,580 local train services daily on its Main, Harbour and trans-Harbour lines. The Western Railway (WR) operates 1,201 local trains. During normal operations, CR runs 1,774 services, while WR operates 1,367.
Wadettiwar said the state government had suggested that the Railways allow the public to commute in local trains after women passengers were permitted to travel during non-peak hours.
“The state government had also sent letters to the Railway Ministry, asking them to start local trains for all. But there was no answer. Railways cited logistical, procedural and safety issues. The state government had assured all possible help but Railways did not respond,’’ said Wadettiwar. He reiterated that CM was quite positive on starting local trains for all Mumbaikars.
Wadettiwar’s statement comes two days after the Southern Railways has allowed public travel during the non-peak hours, from December 23 onwards. BrihanMumbai Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal had earlier said that suburban trains would be resumed for all after December 15 but it did not happen because of apprehensions about a second wave of Covid-19.