Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

Railways ready to open suburban trains for all commuters

Mumbai : While responding positively to the Maharashtra Government’s proposal to open up the suburban railways for all commuters, the Central Railway and Western Railway have sought more details to implement the plans, officials said here on Thursday. The spokespersons – WR’s Sumit Thakur and CR’s Shivaji Sutar – said that they would work with the state government to hammer out the nitty-gritties in this regard even as commuters and passengers groups built pressure to allow access to all for local trains from Nov. 1. On an average, around 85 lakh commuters use the 3,200 services on the Mumbai suburban section daily, serving Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts of the congested Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

The MMR network – the lifeline of Mumbai – is spread over 390- kms with 157 stations transporting the commuters to and from their homes and workplaces, including the Mumbai’s famed Dabbawalas. At presdent, the CR and WR operate around 1,410 local trains serving around 12 percent of the normal crowds, but permitting only people in essential services and other categories gradually allowed after the Unlock process was initiated. As per the Unlock protocols, a maximum 700 commuters are allowed in a 12-car EMU rake against the normal 1,200 seated commuters, plus many more standees. “The Railways has always been ready to augment/enhance suburban services keeping social distancing norms. We are working closely with the Maharashtra government to provide additional services after consultation with them about necessary modalities accordingly,” Thakur and Sutar said.

The state government has prepared a schedule with the categories of the people who would be permitted to commute, both essential workers and others in the peak hours or non-peak periods, besides one Ladies Special train every hour, as per a letter issued by Disaster Management Secretary Kishore Raje Nimbalkar late on Wednesday. The railways have sought certain additional details on the proposal from the state government and it is expected that after a joint meeting, the plans may fructify in the next 2-3 days. Passengers groups on Thursday clamoured for immediate action by the Indian Railways on the state government proposal to help the millions of people wanting to resume their duties in private and government offices. Presently, commuters spend an average of 5-7 hours by road commute, besides the 8-9 hours of office duties, making it a harrowing experience, especially for women who have to balance both home and workplaces.

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