Indian Railways will allow the general public to travel by the suburban train services in Chennai during non-peak hours from December 23, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal informed on Tuesday.
"From 23rd December, Indian Railways permits general public to travel by suburban train services in Chennai during non-peak hours," Piyush Goyal said.
"With adequate safety measures in place, this will greatly enhance ease of movement and passenger convenience," he added.
Currently, Southern Railway has been running suburban train services exclusively for Railway employees as workmen's special in the Chennai region after the COVID-19 lockdown was enforced.
With unlock guidelines being issued from time to time and taking into account the prevailing pandemic situation, Southern Railway has also been making relaxation in the pattern of train services in the suburban sector in various phases.
Under phase-I, employees engaged in the organisations rendering essential services were permitted to travel.
Female passengers were allowed to travel during the non-peak hours under phase-2.
This relaxation comes under phase-3, a statement from the Railways said.
Southern Railway has been increasing the number of train services in view of these phased relaxations.
At present, number of train services run are 410 which is about 65 per cent of normal train operations in the Chennai suburban sector.
The non-peak hours are from the early hours of the day to 7 am, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and from 7 pm to the closing hours of the day, the statement said.
During these timings the general public would be allowed to travel duly following all the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it said.
The intermittent timings will be considered as peak hours -- 7 am to 9:30 am and 4:30 pm to 7 pm, the statement said.
During these peak hours, as it was prevalent earlier, only the employees engaged in the organisation rendering essential services shall be allowed to travel.
"It is reiterated that the general public will not be allowed during these peak hours," it said.
The Southern Railway has also issued an appeal for the general public which includes adhering to the regular COVID-19 norms including mandatory wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing.
(With PTI Inputs)