Central Railway and Western Railway will run suburban services in Mumbai at the 100 per cent capacity of the pre-pandemic level from today i.e. October 28. However, the existing travel restrictions for the general public will remain unchanged, as per an official release. This decision was taken considering the increased flow of commuters.
A joint statement issued by the CR and WR clarified that only categories identified by the government as on date are permitted to travel as per the standard operating procedures (SOP).
Central Railway and Western Railway will run 1,774 and 1,367 services, respectively, on their suburban network from October 28. The zonal railways used to operate these many services before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, Central Railway and Western Railway are operating 1,702 and 1,304 suburban services, respectively, which is 95.70 per cent of the total suburban services in the normal period.
"The decision has been taken considering the increased flow of commuters in local trains," Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer of Central Railway had said. "Though the number of suburban services will increase from Thursday, the existing travel restrictions on suburban locals will remain unchanged," he added.
At present, only the government employees and essential services staffers are allowed to travel on the suburban locals, apart from the fully-vaccinated citizens, who have completed the 14-day period after the second dose and those who are below 18 years.
After the outbreak of the pandemic, the suburban services were completely stopped from March 22, 2020. Later railways began suburban services for essential service categories as identified by the Maharashtra government and approved by the Ministry of Railways from June 15, 2020.
"The categories of commuters who were allowed by the state government and approved by the Ministry of Railways were subsequently enlarged in August 2021 and in recent weeks, to travel in suburban trains," the statement reads.
Suburban locals are considered the lifeline of Mumbai. Nearly 80 lakh passengers used to travel on the suburban locals before the COVID-19 pandemic.