Railways to ply 700 more Mumbai local trains but not for general passengers

To ensure social distancing, every train will carry only 700 passengers against the capacity of 1,200
The Railways will expand its suburban services in Mumbai from Wednesday and run 350 trains each in the Central and Western Railway Zones, Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday.

The trains will, however, only carry essential services personnel identified by the Maharashtra government.

Local trains, the lifeline of the country's financial capital, were suspended on March 23 as national lockdown to contain coronavirus came into force.

Railways to expand to 350 local trains in Mumbai from tomorrow. As identified by State govt., essential staff incl. employees of Centre, IT, GST, Customs, Postal, Nationalised Banks, MBPT (Mumbai Port Trust), Judiciary, Defence & Raj Bhavan allowed. No services yet for general passengers," Goyal tweeted.

Both the railway zones that cater to Mumbai had resumed their select suburban services for essential staff from June 15.

In the Mumbai Division of Central Railways, presently 200 trains are being run and 150 will be added from Wednesday, taking the total to 350. Western Railways is presently running 202 services and 148 will be added from Wednesday.

These trains will halt at major stations (where fast locals halt). On the harbour line too the trains will halt at major stations only.

In normal times, the CR and WR ran more than 3,000 services in Mumbai daily, carrying around 7 million passengers.

After receiving a letter from Ministry of Home Affairs about allowing Central government department staff and bank employees to travel on suburban locals on June 27, the railway authorities had a meeting with state officials on Monday.

As of Tuesday, the CR was operating 200 suburban services -- 130 on the main line between CSMT-Karjat/ Kasara and 70 on the Harbour line between CSMT-Panvel.

"The number of services may be modified as per the requirement to ensure social distancing norms," a joint release of CR and WR said.

Western Railway on Monday added 40 suburban services, taking the total number to 202.

The railway release also made it clear that suburban services will not be for general public.

"The state government has been urged to ensure all those allowed to travel are allowed only after ensuring that they are medically fit and do not come from a containment zone," the release stated.

To ensure social distancing, every train will carry only 700 passengers against the capacity of 1,200.

"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," the railway release stated.

In addition to the essential staff already permitted to travel by select suburban services, the categories instructed by the Union Home Ministry like defence personnel and employees of the Central government, Income Tax, GST, Customs and Department of Posts, and employees of nationalised banks, Mumbai Port Trust, the judiciary and Raj Bhavan will be permitted to travel in these select suburban services from Wednesday.

These selected suburban services will not be available for general passengers/public and will be strictly for essential staff, as identified by the government.

To ensure 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.

(With inputs from IANS and PTI)

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