Amid talk of a complete lockdown in Maharashtra to arrest the COVID-19 surge, the passenger rush on outstation trains in Mumbai has increased since the last weekend, Railway sources said on Monday. The Railway administration, however, attributed the passenger rush to the summer season which sees a large number of people travelling to their native places.
The sources said though the rush on outstation trains has gone up since the state government announced fresh COVID-19 curbs earlier this month, the weekend saw a steady flow of passengers on long-distance trains originating from different stations in the metropolis.
Speculation is rife about the Maharashtra government mulling a "complete lockdown" to curb the current surge in COVID-19 cases, which registered an all-time high spike of 63,294 infections on Sunday.
A Central Railway staffer deputed at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) said since the last couple of days, the station in suburban Mumbai has registered a sharp increase in passengers coming to board trains.
"Since the last few days, trains are going full, but since the last few days there has been more rush," he said.
A senior Railway officer said the rush on outstation trains going to North India is mainly due to the summer season, when a large number of people visit their native places for marriages and other reasons.
"Panchayat elections are scheduled in Uttar Pradesh and hence many people are going for voting," he said, adding there may be some migrant labourers among the passengers, but their number is "negligible" as compared to the last year.
A Central Railway spokesperson said they are operating 12 of the 88 scheduled summer special trains for North India, apart from 18-20 regular special trains for Darbhanga, Patna, Danapur, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Manduadih, Puri, Raxaul and Guwahati among other destinations.
"The Railway administration appeals to people to avoid panic booking. The Railway runs more trains in summer for the convenience of passengers," Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer, Central Railway, said.
Sutar said only passengers having confirmed tickets/reservation are being permitted to board the trains.