January 31, 2021 12:35:30 am
Mumbai’s suburban railway system is bracing itself for Monday when the general public will be allowed to travel by local trains during non-peak hours.
Anticipating the number of daily passengers to increase from the existing over 18 lakh to 40 lakh, the authorities have taken several measures to prepare themselves.
While earlier, entry points to most stations were restricted, the authorities have decided to increase the number of entry and exit points to facilitate smooth movement of passengers. All ticket counters and ATVM machines will also be operated on full capacity. While the Central Railway (CR) will operate all lifts and escalators in its stations, the number of Railway Protection Force personnel deployed on stations will also be doubled.
The state government and the Railways had on Friday announced that all categories of people would be allowed to board local trains starting February 1 in a restricted manner. A person holding a valid ticket or pass would be allowed to board trains till 7 am, between 12 pm to 4 pm and after 9 pm till the last train of the day leaves. The proposal added that travel between 7 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm – deemed to be peak hours – should be reserved only for people involved in essential services and those allowed by the government. Suburban train services have been shut since March 23. While CR used to operate 1,774 services, Western Railway operated 1,367 services each day before lockdown. Presently, the Railways is running 2,985 services daily – 95 per cent of 3,141 services it ran before the lockdown.
The decision to restrict travel timings for the general public, however, has not gone down well as many feel that it will not ease their problems of commuting to and fro from their workplace during the morning and evening rush hours. “There should be no restrictions. Commuters should be allowed to board trains at all times, as was being done before the lockdown. Restrictions do not help people who are forced to spend hours every day on the road to commute to work,” said Nazim Sayyed, a resident of Kalyan, who is forced to use the bus to travel to his Parel office.
The decision to regulate the service on the nation’s largest commuter train network has caused hardships to many residents of Mumbai’s satellite cities, especially the poor, during the last 10 months. As businesses opened, many of the city’s workforce, who stay in far away locations, have seen their daily commute time to Mumbai double with restricted access to local trains.
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