Full-scale resumption of suburban railway services is not likely to happen anytime soon, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray informed on a web address on Sunday. Despite repeated demands from officegoers and various organisations, Thackeray hinted that the state government was in no hurry to do so, considering the spread of the coronavirus and the rising number of cases in Mumbai. However, he said, the government had been pursuing a proposal to increase the frequency of current suburban railway services, to accommodate more passengers.
As on date, of its total 1,774 services, the Central Railway is operating 453, while the Western Railway is running 467 against its 1,467 services.
‘‘Local train service is a very important issue. I am aware everyone wants to travel on suburban trains, which are direly needed, However, crowding in these trains is also a very important issue. We care about people and understand their problems. Trust me, we will decide soon,’’ Thackeray assured.
Thackeray’s statement comes five days after theBombay high court suggested an increase in the frequency of local trains being run in Mumbai, to check crowding. ‘‘The frequency of local trains on all three lines (Western, Central and Harbour lines) has to be increased, to reduce crowding,’’ the court had said. The division bench had further stated, ‘‘We are now in partial lockdown. Malls are open, hotels are allowed to remain open, government offices are working with 100 per cent staff and several other sectors are now working. Railway services need to correspond with this.”
On September 30, The Free Press Journal had broken the story of how suburban railway services would not resume from October 15 but the government was making efforts to increase the frequency of trains. Minister of Tourism and Environment Aaditya Thackeray had clarified that there was no proposal to resume all services from mid-October as had been reported in a section of the press and media.
Aaditya had said, ‘‘So basically, the state is working closely with the railways on the frequency of the railways in peak hours. Also we are thinking of staggering office hours or liberalising these but that will be a larger discussion and process, with all stakeholders.’’
After the state government had announced the lockdown on March 22, suburban train services were halted from March 23 and their operations were only resumed on June 15, with only essential service providers allowed to travel on them.