Good news for commuters of Mumbai as the city will get an additional 150 suburban services on the Western Railway (WR) from today which will ease the commuting travails for officegoers and those in essential services permitted by the Maharashtra government.
This works out to 855 services daily – or barely one-third of the regular 2,300-plus suburban services that was the norm before the lockdown in March-end.
With the increase in services, the government permitted 10 per cent of key employees of private and cooperative banks to commute by local trains, in addition to essential staff of public sector banks, various government departments, aircraft maintenance staffers and lawyers who have been allowed so far.
The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.
To avoid overcrowding and maintain physical distance, the WR and CR will open additional ticket booking counters at major stations on the suburban section which spans across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad.
Several railway passengers organisations and Bahujan Vikash Aghadi (BVA) legislator Kshitij from Nalasopara (Palghar) have urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to resume suburban services for all office-goers.
Presently, many office-goers, especially those from Thane, Palghar and Raigad who commute to their workplaces in Mumbai are forced to travel at least 6 hours daily owing to huge traffic snarls on main roads and the two highways serving the country’s commercial capital.
Moreover, despite the restricted categories allowed to commute by local trains, there is overcrowding during the morning-evening peak hours making a sham of the physical distancing norms.