After a gap of over two-and-a-half months, the Railways resumed limited suburban train services in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) on Monday morning, officials said.
The local services on the network of Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR)—the city’s lifeline—is 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 part 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 directions between Churchgate and Dahanu Road, according to WR spokesperson Ravindra Bhakar.
The CR will run 100 services on either side on its Mainline–between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to Thane, Kalyan, Karjat and Kasara and 70 services on either side 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”, said a CR-WR joint statement early Monday.
“It is requested not to rush to the stations and follow medical and social protocols as mandated for COVID-19,” the CR-WR joint statement said.
Entry will be given at stations strictly through ID cards of essential staff as identified by the State Government. Later on, the staff will be issued QR based e-passes which will also bear colour coding to enable swifter ticket checking. State Government will ensure the same.
Railways, as well as the state government, will ensure multiple rounds of checking to ensure only essential staff as identified by the State Government, should board these trains.
The state government has been urged 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 are to be allowed per train.
Further, the state government is 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.
Ambulances will be kept at each station along with the medical staff to deal with the emergency situation arises during the travel of commuters by respective municipal corporations.