After a gap of over two-and-a-half months, a limited number of suburban trains started zooming in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) from Monday morning, officials said.
The local services on the network of Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) – the city’s lifeline – are specifically for the employees of the Maharashtra government who are engaged in essential services.
This follows repeated appeals by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to the Centre for resumption of services as pert of the unlocking process post Covid-19 lockdown.
Accordingly, the familiar sight and sounds of the suburban trains greeted Mumbaikars since early morning as the CR and WR together started 450 services, according to officials.
The WR will run 60 pairs of its 12 car suburban services – total 120 – in both direction) between Churchgate and Dahanu Road, according to WR spokesperson Ravindra Bhakar.
The CR will run 100 services on either side on its Main line – between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to Thane, Kalyan, Karjat and Kasara and 70 services on either sides of Harbour line – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Panvel, said CR spokesperson Shivaji Sutar.
These trains will run between 05.30 hrs to 23.30 hrs according to a CR-WR joint statement early today.
The Maharashtra government will be the nodal authority for this purpose.
Approximately 1.25 lakh employees of essential services of state government are expected to commute by these special limited services.
During normal times, over 85 lakhs commute daily on the suburban networks spanning Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad.
The CR and WR made it clear these special suburban services will not be for general passengers/public and will be strictly for those engaged in essential services only.
Travelling authority will be applicable as per normal procedure over WR and CR and certain booking windows will be opened for the same.
The Railway workman special trains, already running will continue to run and the RPF will be deployed at various stations.
Food and other stalls will not be opened.
Entry will be given at stations through ID cards of employees but later the state employees will be issued QR based E-passes which will also bar colour coding to enable swifter ticket checking with coordination by the state government.
Both the Railways as the state government will ensure multiple rounds of checking to ensure only essential workers board these trains.
The state government will have to ensure all those allowed to travel are done so after ensuring that they are medically fit and do not come from containment zone.
To allow adequate social distancing in the coaches, unlike its seating capacity to accommodate about 1,200 persons, only about 700 commuters shall be allowed per train.
Further the state government has been advised to stagger the timings of its offices for workers coming from different areas to ensure there is no crowding at the stations and inside the trains.
“It is requested not to rush to the stations and follow medical and social protocols as mandated for Covid-19,” the CR-WR urged.