The Maharashtra government on Tuesday issued an order allowing the common people, irrespective of the nature of their jobs, who are vaccinated fully against COVID-19 to board suburban trains in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). In this order, the state government has extended the definition of fully vaccinated people to cover even those people who are working in non-essential sectors.
This means people who have taken both the doses of vaccines against COVID-19 and completed 14 days after inoculation can travel in local trains. The government also stated that the people working in essential sectors must be fully vaccinated and should have completed the 14 days post-inoculation before they can be allowed to board local trains. Currently, the Central Railway and the Western Railway have been issuing a monthly pass to vaccinated commuters instead of daily tickets to curtail the crowd. Notably, both the railways on Monday said suburban services in Mumbai will be operated at the 100 per cent capacity of the pre-pandemic level from October 28, but the existing travel restrictions for the general public will remain unchanged. This decision was taken considering the increased flow of commuters, an official said on Monday.
Central Railway and Western Railway will run 1,774 and 1,367 services, respectively, on their suburban network from October 28. The zonal railways used to operate these many services before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Central Railway and Western Railway are operating 1,702 and 1,304 suburban services, respectively, which is 95.70 per cent of the total suburban services in the normal period.
Till now, only government employees and essential services staffers are allowed to travel on suburban trains, apart from the fully-vaccinated citizens, who have completed the 14 days after the second dose and those who are below 18 years. After the outbreak of the pandemic, the suburban services were completely stopped from March 22, 2020. Later railways began suburban services for essential service categories as identified by the Maharashtra government and approved by the Ministry of Railways from June 15, 2020.
Suburban locals are considered the lifeline of Mumbai. Nearly 80 lakh passengers used to travel on the suburban locals before the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 graph is also slowing down in Maharashtra. The state on Monday reported 889 COVID-19 cases, the lowest number in a day since May 5, 2020, and 12 fresh fatalities, the least number of one-day death count in more than 18 months, a health department official had said.