Starting Monday, booking windows at select suburban railway stations in Mumbai are set to reopen as both the Central and Western Railway will run train services for the first time since March 23, but only for the 1.25 lakh commuters identified by the state government as essential service workers.
The train services will not be available for the general public, a joint press release from Western and Central Railways late on Sunday said.
Officials said several checks will be put in place to ensure that only private, as well as government officials involved in essential services and healthcare workers identified by the state and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), are allowed to travel.
After day-long meetings between officials from the state government and the Railways, Central and Western Railway officials said they were fully prepared to run the trains for essential service workers but were awaiting approval from Railway Board. The green light came on Sunday evening.
Railways officials had urged the Maharashtra government to provide a list of all employees in advance, much like Shramik Special trains running across states, and make a bulk payment for their tickets to avoid crowding at the booking windows. “There is no uniformity of (identity) cards of essential workers. This makes it difficult to control who should be allowed to avail the services,” said an official.
However, the state government had neither made a bulk payment nor arranged a comprehensive list of essential workers. So for now, Railways will allow the passengers to purchase tickets on valid municipal and state IDs independently from the booking windows.
The state and the Railways are, meanwhile, exploring a system of introducing e-passes with BMC as the nodal agency. The Mumbai Police is being asked to set up a portal.
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