Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) have decided to run ‘selective suburban services’.
Mumbai: After a gap of more than two and half months, Mumbai’s local trains, considered as the lifeline of the country’s financial capital, were back on track on Monday. However, with the Maharashtra government allowing only essential services staff to travel, the decision has not gone down well with employees working in banks and private firms.
The Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) have decided to run ‘selective suburban services’ over the main line and harbour line with the protocol and standard operating procedure (SOP) defined by the state government. Only the essential staff identified by the state government will be allowed to travel and the train services are not available for the general public, said the railway officials.
Mumbai local train services were suspended on March 22 due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. However, after the Maharashtra government relaxed the lockdown on June 8, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had demanded that local train services should be resumed to ease the burden on public transport.
According to railway officials, the CR will run 200 train services on the main line and harbour line, whereas the WR will run 73 services. Against a seating capacity of1,200, only 700 people are to be allowed per train. The railways has also asked the state government to stagger office timings to avoid overcrowding at stations.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Maharashtra police will be deployed at various stations to ensure that only essential staff are using the train services. Entry will be given to only those having government ID cards.
However, while approximately 1.25 lakh employees of essential services of the state government are expected to be benefited by the local trains, others are miffed over being excluded from using the services. Employees from banks and private firms have demanded that they should also be allowed to travel by the trains.
In a letter written to the state chief secretary, Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation (MSBEF) has requested the government to allow bank employees to use the suburban train services as they too are part of essential services. “We request you to extend this service to the bank employees to enable them to report to their duties regularly. This will also facilitate extending full-fledged banking services to all,” the letter said.
“Bank employees have been working continuously during the lockdown period. In the COVID-19 pandemic, 12 bank employees have lost their lives in Mumbai, whereas 2,100 employees have been infected by the virus. The banking sector should be included in the essential services to allow its employees to travel by trains,” said Devidas Tuljapurkar, the convenor of Union Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU).
An employee working for a private firm in Mumbai said, “Though we are not from essential services, we have been asked by our company to work as per the state government guidelines. Many of the private firm employees live in far off suburbs and they have to travel by buses to reach offices in Mumbai. It consumes a lot of time, which is very arduous.”