In a bid to prevent crowding in local trains in Mumbai, railway authorities added 753 new special services from Monday, taking the total number of services on the suburban network to2,773, officials said. With this, the railway authorities have resumed 88 per cent of the total 3,141 suburban services which were being operated before the outbreak of COVID-19, they said.
During normal times before the lockdown, the Central Railway (CR) used to operate 1,772 services, while the Western Railway (WR) ran 1,367 services on the suburban network, they said. The local trains, considered, as the lifeline of Mumbai, were resumed for the emergency and essential services staff in June this year.
To cater to the increasing crowd in suburban trains, the Central Railway has now added 552 more services on its routes, while the Western Railway has added 201 services, as per a joint press release issued by the CR and WR on Sunday. With this, the special suburban services on the CR routes have increased to 1,572 from the earlier 1,020, while the WR services have gone up to 1,201 from 1,000.
Earlier, the Railways had decided to run 610 additional special suburban services from Sunday to avoid crowding in trains. "The Railways is subsequently increasing suburban services keeping in view the social distancing norms and safety of public at large," the release said.
The railway authorities have also given inputs to the Maharashtra government as asked by it, the release said. "The Railways is hoping that the state government will revert soon deciding the modalities for providing services to commuters in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region," it said.
Earlier, the CR and WR resumed the suburban services for emergency and essential services staff from June 15, and gradually allowed passengers from some other categories, like lawyers and staff of foreign consulates, to also travel in local trains. Currently, the special suburban services are not available for the general public, though women are permitted to travel in the local trains during non-peak hours.
Last month, the Maharashtra government proposed to the railway authorities to allow the general public to board the local trains at stipulated timings during the non-peak hours. The railway authorities, however, wrote back to the state government, saying in view of the social distancing norms, they can only ferry 22 lakh passengers, instead of the nearly 80 lakh passengers who used to travel in local trains before the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also appealed to travellers to follow the "medical and social protocols as mandated for COVID-19" and not to believe in any rumours.