New Delhi: The Indian Railways could resume Mumbai local train services, which were suspended in March to arrest the spread of Covid-19, from next week, ThePrint has learnt.
The Maharashtra government had been making a demand to this effect for almost a month.
While a final go-ahead from the Ministry of Railways is still awaited, sources said the state government has been asked to prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) to run the trains for select categories of people.
A railway ministry official, who did not wish to be named, said the services will initially resume only for those involved in essential services, and the state government would be required to provide passenger details, like it does in the case of Shramik Special trains for migrants, and tickets will be directly issued to people who would be allowed to travel.
The trains will stop only at the big stations, the official added.
Asked for a comment on the development via a text message, Ministry of Railways spokesperson D.J. Narain, however, just replied with a tweet posted by the Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway, Mumbai, Saturday. The Twitter post read: “There are messages in circulation about starting of suburban trains. In this regard, it is informed that…’So far, we haven’t received such instructions in this direction. We will update you once we receive instructions from competent authority’ @Central_Railway @drmmumbaicr.”
There are messages in circulation about starting of suburban trains. In this regard, it is informed that..
— Shivaji M Sutar (@ShivajiIRTS) June 13, 2020
Uddhav Thackeray on resumption of services
Earlier this week, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had underscored the need to resume local train services in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region for frontline workers, who are facing immense difficulty in commuting and joining duty due to the lack of public transport in the city.
“The hospital staff and other workforce engaged in essential and emergency services are finding it difficult to commute from far-off areas to Mumbai. We have been demanding resumption of local rail services from the Centre. This is very important for the workforce,” Thackeray had said Wednesday.
It wasn’t the first time that Thackeray had raised the need to resume local trains in Mumbai city, which ferried roughly 80 lakh passengers every day across the its suburban network before the national lockdown was enforced in March.
In one of the meetings held through video conference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all state chief ministers last month, Thackeray had raised this issue. However, there had been no response from the central government for almost a month.
The network, spread across six lines of Central Railway and Western Railway, covers 390-odd kilometres and 157 stations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Covid-19 cases in Mumbai, meanwhile, continue to rise, with the city recording 1,383 fresh cases on Saturday alone — taking the total count to 56,740.
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