Around 70,000 people travelled on Mumbai’s local trains on Tuesday, far less than expected by the railways. The railways had planned 362 services to cater to nearly 1.25 lakh passengers from different parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
On Monday, nearly 60,000 people used the suburban network to get to and from work. The tepid response on the first day was attributed to the fact that many did not know about the services as the decision had been taken late Sunday night. The figure increased by 10,000, a marginal rise, on Tuesday but led to long queues outside several railway stations on both Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR).
During the morning hours, long queues were seen at booking windows outside Nalasopara station and Thane station. During evening hours, government employees returning from work stood in a long line at CSMT station. Nilima Chimote, an employee at Mantralaya, said she had to stand in queue for 40 minutes before being allowed inside the station. “There was just a single thermal scanner for two queues and passengers were alternately checked that caused delays,” she said. However, senior police inspector of GRP at CSMT, Hemant Baodankar, maintained there were two thermal scanners.
“But people were rushing and the checking process had to be stopped to ensure discipline which caused delays,” said Baodankar. He added that queues were long as passengers had to maintain social distancing.
GRP Commissioner Ravindra Sengaokar said, “The passengers were slightly more than yesterday, we will form multiple queues at CSMT from tomorrow to ease the stress. Everything else went smoothly.”
At CSMT, women commuters shared videos of crowded ladies coaches for Kalyan bound trains where passengers had to stand. Tejaswini Railway Mahila Pravasi Sanghatna general secretory Lata Argade said, “There were long gaps between Kalyan bound trains, hence there was crowding in a few of them. There is a need for more Kalyan bound trains as those can be taken by Thane passengers as well.”
Radhakrishnan Iyer, who boarded a train from Dombivali to reach Kurla, said he ended up waiting for 45 minutes for a train. “There was not much crowd while entering the station but perhaps the frequency of trains should be improved,” said Iyer, who works at Pratiksha Nagar depot of BEST. Several other passengers said trains halting only at fast stations made it difficult for them. Those who work in hospitals and offices in close proximity to a slow station found it difficult to reach fast stations with poor bus connectivity. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking on the other hand operated 2,654 buses and ferried about 5.87 lakh passengers.
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