Mumbai: Local trains resume services, but strictly for essential staff
Shut since March 23, two days before a nationwide lockdown was enforced to contain the transmission of coronavirus, some Mumbai local trains resumed services today, but only to ferry those involved in essential works. The services won't be opened for the general public, the Western and Central Railways said in a joint press release on Sunday. Read on for more details on this.
In the Maharashtra capital, the coronavirus tally crossed 50,000 mark and more than 2,000 have died. Separately, the Western state continues to remain battered by the virus. The infections' tally stands at 107,958 and 3,950 have lost their lives. Opening up the services, widely regarded as the lifeline of the maximum city, at this time was, hence, a tricky decision.
The state government, Railways, Central, and Western Railway officials held elaborate meetings regarding resuming services in Mumbai. The approval from the Railway board came last evening. Railways announced the trains will run between 5:30 am and 11:30 pm, at an interval of 15 minutes. "Maximum services will run between Churchgate and Virar, but few will also run up to Dahanu Road," added Railways.
In another landmark step in our fight against COVID-19, Railways resumes selected local train services in Mumbai from today, strictly for essential staff as recognised by the State Govt. pic.twitter.com/z77wljR3wi— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) June 15, 2020
It's estimated that some 1.25 lakh people will use these services. Railways officials wanted the state government to provide a list of passengers in advance, much like the procedure followed for Shramik special trains, to avoid crowding at ticket counters. But the state government, run by NCP, Congress, and Shiv Sena, didn't give an exhaustive list of essential workers.
According to Indian Express, Railways asked the state for a bulk payment too, but that didn't happen either. As a result, staff would now have to furnish their ID cards at the booking windows for a ticket. "There is no uniformity of (identity) cards of essential workers. This makes it difficult to control who should be allowed to avail the services," an official said.
A train that carries 1,200 people will have only 700 occupants to promote social distancing. As per the guidelines, only those carrying state-approved ID cards can enter the station. Multiple rounds of screening will be conducted to ensure only essential workers board the trains. The state government was asked to ensure that those traveling are medically sound and don't come from containment zones.
The Western Railways said hawkers and parking won't be permitted "in station circulating area at 150 meters radius". It is the responsibility of respective municipal corporations to prevent mass gatherings at stations. Ambulances, complete with medical staff, should be present at each station to deal with an untoward situation. "RPF, GRP, and state police will be deployed at various stations," said Railways.
Kind Attention :- Western Railway have decided to resume their selected suburban services over WR w.e.f. Monday, 15th June, 2020 with defined protocol SOP, only for movement of essential staff as identified by the State Government. pic.twitter.com/KlZeGJEq2t— Western Railway (@WesternRly) June 14, 2020