Maharashtra government thinking of Kolkata-style colour-coded e-pass for locals
High-level meeting between chief secretary and Central and Western Railway officials focusses on ways to open trains for public
With pressure mounting on the government to restart local trains, modalities for the same were discussed at a high-level meeting held with state chief secretary Sanjay Kumar on Tuesday. While there is still not much clarity on when the services would be resumed for all, railway officials who attended the meeting told mid-day that they recommended implementing colour-coded e-passes like Kolkata to limit crowds on trains, as part of a two-pronged strategy to roll out the locals.
In addition to this, a joint committee of the state government and railways has also been set up to look into modalities of resuming local trains.
A commuter at Kurla station
When contacted, Kumar confirmed that the meeting focused on re-starting the locals. "The main focus of the meeting was to decide on the modalities. We are developing a mechanism to improve movement of railway traffic and several other meetings will also be held," he said.
Staggered office timings
Railway officials suggested in the meeting that office timings should be staggered to avoid rush hour crowds in local trains, a plan that the BMC teams have already been working on, and that a colour-coded e-pass system should be developed based on the Kolkata model. Officials said that the state government would scout for private vendors to build the ticketing system. Metro services in Kolkata resumed operations from September 14 and from October 4 it was extended on Sundays as well.
Passengers wait for trains at Kurla railway station
The officials explained that the e-pass system in Kolkata had been developed by a technology solutions company to ensure that not more than 400 passengers boarded a Metro train at a time to maintain the COVID-19 health safety protocol.
A solution for all
Requesting anonymity, a railway official said, "Some people have smartphones while others have analogue phones which cannot have such applications. The main challenge is to come up with a solution that can be accessible to all. A simple technology has been implemented (in Kolkata) that people can use by just clicking on a link. A passenger is then given five questions, including one on a language option, which he/she has to answer through the link in the phone."
The official further explained that just like the way it was done in Kolkata, a different time slot would be given to passengers based on availability and a QR code would be generated immediately which would serve as an e-pass. "The passes can be colour-coded based on the time slots. The colour codes will help security personnel validate them easily and avoid queues at the entry points," said the official.
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