Photo used for representational purpose only
MUMBAI: Central government staffers, including those from income-tax, goods and services tax, customs, defence, postal and banking sectors, will soon be allowed to board local trains to reach their workplace. Though a final date is yet to be decided, both state and central governments have green lighted the request.
According to railway sources, nationalised bank staffers will be allowed to travel in locals, but there is no clarity on whether private and cooperative bank staffers will be given permission.
On June 15, local trains resumed operations with restricted services only for essential workers, including nominated staff of state government, Mantralaya, BEST, local civic bodies, police and those in medical field. But central government and bank employees who were also categorised as essential service providers, were not allowed in locals.
Central Railway chief PRO Shivaji Sutar and Western Railway spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar said a meeting will be held with state officials on Monday to decide on the modalities. Sources said the number of services will have to be increased to accommodate central government staffers .
At present, 362 services run daily, including 162 on WR, 130 on CR main line and 70 on Harbour line, and ferry more than 1.2 lakh essential staffers. To allow adequate social distancing in coaches, unlike its 1,200 seating capacity, not more than 750 passengers are allowed per train. Normally, 3,000 local trains ferry nearly 80 lakh people daily.
From Monday, WR will add 40 additional suburban services-20 slow services between Churchgate and Borivli, 14 fast services between Churchgate and Virar, two slow services from Borivli to Vasai, two slow services from Virar to Borivli and two fast services from Vasai to Churchgate-and CR will begin tatkal booking in all special outstation trains for journeys commencing June 30 onwards.
On Friday, chief secretary Ajoy Mehta had written to the railway board with a request to allow defence personnel and bank staffers to travel by local trains in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). The letter was forwarded to Union home ministry. The next day, home secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to Mehta asking him to instruct the local authorities to allow defence personnel, and employees from central government, income-tax, GST, customs and posts departments to board suburban trains in MMR. Mehta replied that the state has given the permission.
Mehta said banks and defence authorities have been asked to provide a list of their st- affers who would travel on trains. “There’s a proposal to stagger the working hours at government offices, banks and other establishments to ensure there’s no crowding at stations and in trains,” said a senior official.