Updated: August 16, 2021 12:22:56 pm
Four months after it shut down its services for the general public, fully vaccinated general commuters were allowed to board Mumbai’s suburban trains for the first time on Sunday.
With Sunday being a holiday and due to the Independence Day, the 2,813 services that ran on the Suburban tracks were relatively empty. Officials, however, said that they are bracing for a gradual increase in the number of passengers from Tuesday. They will also deploy an additional 173 services from Monday onwards taking the total number of services to 2,986.
“There was no crowding on most of our services today. The number of people, who travelled on Sunday, was less than the weekdays as most of the offices are shut. The increase in the number of passengers after the relaxation can be judged only on Tuesday as Monday is a holiday as well,” a senior railway official said.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of increased crowd extra security staff as well as railway employees were deployed at most stations to check that only eligible passengers were travelling on the trains. While the Government Railway Police (GRP) and local police forces along with the civic body staffers were deployed outside stations to ensure only eligible passengers enter the premises, the Railway Police Force (RPF) and the ticket checkers ensured only those eligible were inside the stations.
Officials said that the ticket checkers conducted surprise checking of passengers on the platforms as well as on trains to check if commuters are carrying valid tickets/passes and relevant documents like verified Covid vaccine certificate, passes/tickets and ID proof. At various stations like CST ticket checkers were checking commuters if they had the necessary permission to board the trains.
Many commuters who travelled for the first time on Sunday said that they were thankful to the authorities for resuming train services for the general public.
“It would take me close to two hours to reach CST from Nerul when the trains were shut. The opening of the train service will provide major relief to commuters and help them save precious time as well as money that we were forced to spend when trains were not accessible,” Irfan Shaikh, a resident of Nerul who works in a shop at Mohammed Ali Road said.
Shaikh had been commuting to his workplace in a bus for the last few months and boarded a train for the first time on Sunday.
Mumbai’s suburban train services were shut down in April by the state government after the second wave of the pandemic. Services were gradually resumed but only government employees and essential services staffers are allowed to travel in local trains.
On August 8, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced reopening of train services from August 15 for people, who are fully vaccinated and completed 14 days after receiving the second dose of Covid vaccine.
Starting Monday, the Western Railway will run 1,300 suburban services on its Mumbai suburban section while the Central Railway will run 1,686 suburban services on Mumbai division. With this a total of 2,986 train services will run on the Mumbai suburban network from Monday.
Western Railway is running 1,201 services on the suburban network of Mumbai division. With increase of 99 services, total services of 1,300 suburban services on its suburban section will become about 95% of pre-Covid services when it was 1,367 services.
Similarly, the Central Railway is running 1,612 services on suburban network of Mumbai division and with the increase of 74 services, the total services of 1,686 suburban services on all its suburban sections will become 95% of the pre-Covid services which were 1,774 services.
“We request passengers to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, wear masks and follow social distancing for their own and others safety,” said Shivaji Sutar, Central Railway, Chief Public Relations Officer.
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