Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) have said that social distancing rules will stop them from carrying more than 21.46 lakh commuters daily even with the full complement of services compared to the 80 lakh traffic in pre-Covid times. Each train is now meant for a maximum 700 passengers, far less than the 'super dense crush load' of 5,000 seen in morning and evening hours until March.
WR and CR have said they are willing to resume full services, provided technology is deployed for crowd management.
WR also said it will be able to ferry not more than 9.06 lakh passengers daily in 1,367 trains, far less than the 35 lakh passengers that travelled in pre-Covid days.
CR wrote, "We do not have any issue in increasing the number of services from existing 706 to 1774 (maximum possible)... issues of separation/segregation of passengers thus enabling social distancing has to be ensured by the state government by technological solution or app... even if we start all 1,774 services, we can transport a maximum of 12.4 lakh passenger daily, which is much less than the 45 lakh passengers...in the pre-Covid regime."
The Maharashtra government had written to the Railways requesting them to resume local train services for everyone, but with separate time slots. As per the letter, signed by relief and rehabilitation secretary Kishor Nimbalkar, the state has suggested staggered timings wherein the general public can be allowed to board trains during three non-peak time slots-—from the first local to 7.30am, 11am to 4.30pm and from 8pm till the last train for the day. The remaining time slots can be reserved for those authorized till now.
In the pre-COVID-19 era, 80 lakh people travelled daily by Mumbai suburban local trains, called the "lifeline" of the metropolis.