The Maharashtra government has recently told the Bombay high court that the final decision regarding opening locals for all will be taken in the coming week. The local trains were back on track since June last year after the nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25, but the initial services were only for essential workers. Now with the number of COVID-19 cases being contained, the authorities are in the talks to take the services to pre-Covid days, adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.
The Mumbai Suburban system has been transporting millions in the commercial capital of India for many years. Western Railways operate the local trains in Mumbai from Churchgate, the city’s business centre to Dahanu Road covering a distance of 123 Kms and 36 stations. Central Railways operate local trains on Central line, Harbour line, Trans-Harbour line, Nerul–Uran line, Panvel-Karjat line, and Panvel-Diva-Vasai line. The system is known to be commuting 35 lakh passengers every day round the clock.
In December, practising lawyers and registered clerks of advocates were permitted to travel even during morning peak hours. Evening peak hours between 4 pm and 7 pm, however, remained restricted. Now the authorities are mulling whether to allow passengers before 7 am and after 10 pm. But till January 5, there was a night curfew in Maharashtra, which has not been extended so far. From October, Mumbai locals allowed women passengers between 11 am to 3 pm and after 7 pm till the last train.
In October, the railway authorities also permitted lawyers to travel in local trains except during morning peak hours between 8 am and 11 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm in the evening. In November, teachers, as well as non-teaching school staff, were allowed to board suburban trains.