Mumbai local train services, which have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, are expected to be reopened in the near future. A proposal for the same has been shared that suggests opening the service in a staggered manner. However, the Maharashtra government has cautioned people against crowding amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The administration is facing issues in managing the crowd as the number of trips taken by the local trains is insufficient compared to the people using it. The major trouble for the administration is to chalk out a plan for crowd control if the local train is allowed for the general public.
Currently, the employees working in the essential sectors, state and central government institutions have been allowed to use the local train with valid QR coded identity cards. Women. Lawyers, bank employees, private security guards and Mumbai’s Dabbawalas have also been allowed to use local trains.
The Maharashtra government recently wrote a letter to railway seeking permission to allow the general public to travel in local trains during non-peak hours. In reality, the railway administration is facing trouble due to the increasing crowd while fearing that social distancing norms will not be followed.
A number of plans made by railway to control crowds and reduce passenger congestion in local trains are still on paper. Currently, 3.95 lakh passengers are travelling on Western Railway (WR) and 4.57 lakh are travelling on Central Railway (CR).
Moreover, 180 out of the 300 ticket windows on Central line and 270 out of 292 ticket windows on Western line are open. However, the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) and other ways to get tickets are closed which causes huge queues outside the ticket windows at railway stations.
In the pre-corona period, there were 3,141 local trains on the western and central line. The number has gone down to 1,410 now. Meanwhile, WR has initiated work on a 15-coach local project between Andheri and Virar and it will be completed by December 2020.