Mumbai: Limited locals resume to ferry railway staff

Updated: May 21, 2020, 07:30 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

With 200 scheduled long-distance trains to resume on June 1, limited services start in city only for railway employees who need to be at work

Trains waiting to depart seen at Churchgate station
Trains waiting to depart seen at Churchgate station

Even as the Indian Railways on Tuesday night announced that they would gradually exit the COVID-caused lockdown by starting 200 non-AC trains as per timetable from June 1, the railways in Mumbai have mobilised local trains for internal movement of staff.

Trains have been under complete lockdown since March 22, with Shramik Specials for migrants starting on May 1 and special Rajdhani Expresses beginning on May 12.

"Local trains are now being run in limited number and are only for the internal movement of staff. Shramik Specials for migrants are increasing by the day and more and more railway staff is now required to be on duty. To maintain proper social distancing inside these trains, we have limited movement of local trains. But they are not open to anyone else other than railway staff," a senior rail official said.

"The sight of local trains back on track is something so common. And I was surprised to see one of them on Western Railway the other day. It felt so good," Virar resident Akash Durve said.

Officials said that in addition to the Shramik Special trains, Indian Railways is going to start 200 new time-tabled trains from June 1. The routes and schedules of these trains will be intimated soon. the booking will only online and shall commence in a few days.

Sources said trains will be non-AC and no tickets will be sold at any railway station and prospective travellers should not come to the railway station to buy tickets.

To facilitate walking migrants, plans are being made where they can approach station masters at railway stations on the main line close to their locations to board trains for the rest of the journey. Railways have also asked all state governments to identify and locate such migrants, register them at the district headquarters and transport them to the nearest main line railway station. The railways will have to be given the list of traveller so they can arrange for Shramik Specials.

Rail stalls to start
The Indian Railways on Wednesday allowed rail stalls, book stalls, chemist stalls and vending units to start functioning at all railway stations across the country with immediate effect.

"There are quite a few Shramik trains and special Rajdhani trains which have been running. These shops will cater to that. Besides this, there is railway staff that is operating at the stations," an official said.

There was, however, no clarity if stalls only where Sharmik/special trains originate, halt and terminate or all stalls will remain open or all stalls across zones.

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