August 12, 2021 12:17:42 am
As many as 23,251 monthly local train passes were issued till Wednesday evening as the Central and Western Railway began the process to issue passes for those who have been fully vaccinated and completed the 14-day post-jab waiting period.
On August 8, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced that the local train services were scheduled to open for fully vaccinated citizens from August 15.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the local civic bodies in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) have set up 420 helpdesks across 108 railway stations to facilitate offline verification of vaccination certificates. While 340 counters were set up on the 78 stations on the Central Railway (CR), 80 helpdesks were set up on Western Railway (WR) line from Churchgate to Dahanu Road section.
On Wednesday, more than 25,000 people got their Covid-19 vaccine certificates verified but only 23,251 passes were issued by the railways, officials said.
Between 7 am and 6 pm, CR officials issued 16,798 monthly local train passes with Dombivali selling the highest of 1,217 passes. The WR sold 6,453, the highest of 449 passes being sold at Borivali station, officials said.
With approximately 24 lakh people in MMR fully vaccinated a huge crowd was anticipated, but only a few thousand turned up at these stations to get vaccination certificates verified and buy tickets/passes. The railway officials believe that the turnout was low as it was the first day and it may shoot up in the coming days.
“Several citizens came without proper documents, including their vaccination certificates. In such cases, we had to send them back to bring the certificates,” an official manning a helpdesk said. Some others were also turned away as helpdesk staffers were unable to scan the QR codes due to a technical glitch.
Suryakant Supal, 75, a resident of Ghatkopar, who had carried the black and white photocopy of the vaccine certificate, said the QR code on the document could not be scanned and so he was sent back. “I don’t have a smartphone, so they (helpdesk staff) initially told me to get a photocopy (of the certificate), which I produced. But they said it was not clear and I needed to carry a coloured photocopy to scan the QR code and verify it,” Supal told The Indian Express.
As per the BMC, people who have completed 14 days after the second dose must carry a hard copy of the final vaccination certificate and original photo ID for verification along with a photocopy of the ID.
A few commuters also expressed dissatisfaction as the daily oneway tickets were not issued. “I have to travel on different routes in the MMR region on different days. I don’t travel on a particular route daily and hence the daily ticket would be usefully for me,” a commuter said.
Railway officials, meanwhile, said they were working on a plan on how many train services would be required to cater to the increase in passengers from August 15 onwards. Before the suburban train services were shut down on March 23 last year, the CR and WR used to operate 1,774 and 1,367 services each day, respectively.
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