The first special train ferrying passengers from New Delhi arrived at Mumbai Central station on Thursday morning with 1,224 passengers on board. The Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani is part of the first 15 passenger trains that the Railways had rolled out after it suspended all its passenger services across the country in March.
Around 9 am, weary passengers with home quarantine stamps on their hands, started trickling out of the station with luggage, visibly relieved to have made it to Mumbai.
Barring those who came directly from Delhi, several passengers had travelled from Surat, Dehradun, Faridabad, Indore and other cities of north India to undertake the trip. Many of the family members parked themselves outside the cordoned premises of the station, waiting patiently to see those they were separated from for over two months.
Of the total passengers, 954 were from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region with 270 from other parts of Maharashtra. The state had made arrangements to ferry them home through BEST buses, taxis and inter-city buses.
Nagpada resident Arif Advani had woken up at 3.15 am to observe Roza, and hadn’t slept since, in anticipation of his wife’s return. “My wife had gone to Surat, along with my nephew’s wife and children, as our daughter was pregnant. They boarded the train from Gujarat,” he said, adding that the family had been overly worried after his nephew’s wife suffered a seizure during her stay there. “We had written an application to the collector and had even arranged for a car to bring them back for Rs 11,000 but to no avail. We are all glad to have them back,” he said.
In his late sixties, Ghatkopar resident Anil Mehta was in tears as he came out of the station with his sister, to see his son having come to receive him. Mehta and his sister were supposed to join a tour of senior citizens that was supposed to leave for Sri Lanka from Delhi on March 17. Mehta had reached Delhi days in advance.
“Sixty-seven days,” he emphasised. “We were there for 67 days. Luckily, we had relatives there and they took good care of us,” he said. While complaining of congestion in the train, he said social distancing norms were not followed. “We tied cloths around our faces. The train was not clean,” he added.
It was only in early March that Kandivali resident Akshay Barkade (26) reached Gurgaon’s Sector 60 to start his new job at a gaming event company. His hopes of pursuing a career there dulled with the announcement of a lockdown. “I have no clue when I will go back. But for now, we have not received any instructions from the company. We were lucky to be given accommodation and meals by the company,” he said.
Before the train’s arrival, the station premises was cordoned off to execute a standard operating procedure released by the state disaster management, relief and rehabilitation department. As per the protocol, the Railways set up a special screening area for passengers.
“We arranged for over 100 trolleys to help passengers carry their luggage. Fire brigade employees were tasked with sanitising the premises and luggage. MSRTC buses were arranged for those who wanted to opt for it, and BMC officials took over the responsibility of passengers after they deboarded,” said the Western Railway spokesperson.
BMC officials said all the passengers who deboarded were screened for symptoms. All were allowed to go after being stamped “home quarantine” on the hands.
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