Fearing second virus wave, Maharashtra govt delays operation of local train services

Fearing a second wave of Covid-19, the Maharashtra government has delayed the operation of local train services going back on its earlier promise to start operations from November. Top government officials said the state wants local trains to start only after the Diwali holidays. Even as the state is delaying this decision, Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi ministers have been blaming the Centre for delaying train operations despite the state government asking the Railways to do so.

“Cases in Delhi have gone past 8,000 per day. This is after Delhi opened up most services. If we do the same in Mumbai and allow people to travel on trains during Diwali, then we would be back to a situation where people find it difficult to get a hospital bed.. Which is why there is a hesitation on starting of trains prior to Diwali,” a state government official told ET.

While this seems to be the intent of the government, their public stance has been different. Maharashtra Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar has blamed the Centre for inconveniencing Mumbaikers and said the state government was ready to help the Railways to work out the modalities. Wadettiwar has alleged that the Centre wanted to take the credit for starting the local trains and is hence not starting them when the state wants to.

The Maharashtra government had, on October 28, asked the Railway Ministry to start local train services in the city where commuters could use the services in fixed time schedules. Railway officials said they have written back to the state government seeking a meeting to work out the modalities. But, they are yet to hear from the state government.

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“The state government has allotted different timings for essential service and those working in private jobs. But, who will ensure that this happens? Once the services are restored there would be lakhs of commuters travelling. We do not have the manpower to check each and every commuter to see whether he is from the essential services or not,” said a Railways official.

Railway officials said there was a plan to have colour-coded tickets to be given to people from different services. But there would still be confusion in the case of those who already have Railway passes.



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