October 21, 2020 1:37:20 am
In a much needed relief to women commuters of Mumbai, the Railways finally allowed them to travel in suburban local trains from Wednesday.
The decision comes four days after the Maharashtra government, on October 16, issued a circular stating that women would be allowed to travel in local trains from Saturday — between 11 am and 3 pm and again from 7 pm till the end of services.
The Railways had, however, stalled the move stating that it would require clearance from the Railway Board. It had also suggested a joint meeting of rail and government officials to work out the modalities.
“I am happy to announce that Railways will allow women to travel on suburban trains from October 21 between 11 am to 3 pm and after 7 pm,” Railways Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted on Tuesday.
The decision comes after much wrangling between the Uddhav Thackeray government and the Railways, which squared off over starting local train services amid the pandemic. Both had differed over starting special trains to facilitate movement of people to districts in Konkan for Ganesh Chaturthi in August. In May, a war of words had broken out between Goyal, rail officials and the Maharashtra government over the Shramik special trains with the ministry accusing the state of not getting passengers in time at stations to board these trains.
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar wrote another letter to the general managers of Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR), seeking action on the state’s October 16 request. “The implementation of the joint decision is yet to be initiated. Thus, women commuters may kindly be allowed to avail of the local train service,” he wrote.
Welcoming the decision, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, who had been raising the issue with the Railways, termed as “political” the ministry taking four days to take a call on the matter.
Suburban train services were shut on March 23 amid the pandemic. Partial resumption of services was announced on June 15. However, only those deemed to be essential service providers were allowed to board these trains after being allotted special passes.
At present, both WR and CR are not operating trains to their full capacity. Currently, 700 services are plying on WR against 1,316 before the lockdown. On CR, 481 services are running against the 1,719 before March.
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