Currently, only essential workers and those approved by government are allowed to travel on locals. Women too have permission, but only during non-peak hours. As a result, the number of services has increased to 1,367 on WR and 1,774 on CR. “We will take a review this week about reopening trains for all, but it will take time before it is done. The biggest problem is the lack of a crowd management system at stations, which makes social distancing very difficult,” a senior official said.
Night curfew to end today, may not be extended
A senior officer said while cases have reduced, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is not comfortable about opening up trains for all. Railways too is unable to come up with a plan to enforce social distancing on large crowds. Another official said even with current restrictions, trains are running packed, and with the dip in temperatures there is a fear that spread of infections may be hastened.
“With the new proposal of allowing people before 7am and post 10pm we are trying to stagger travel and encourage offices to devise a shift system. These two slots will cover more working class people like those working in restaurants and second shifts,” said the official, adding that factors like positivity rate, death rate and growth rate of cases will be factored in when a decision is made. “The permission of the Railway Board too will have to be sought,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state is not likely to extend night curfew imposed from December 25 to January 5 in view of the new virus strain from UK. “The night curfew ends tomorrow and it was imposed to ensure there is no crowding in public places during the festive season and the New Year’s eve, it is likely that curfew may not be extended,” said another senior official.