Mumbai local train services - suspended in March last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, and re-started in phases since - will be opened to the general public in fixed time slots from Monday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's office said this morning.
The trains - an essential service for lakhs of commuters, particularly for those from economically weaker sections - will be opened from the first service till 7 am, noon to 4 pm and 9 pm to the last service.
In between these timings, only those in essential services - such as frontline workers and healthcare staff, single women travellers and those with a special pass from the state government - will be allowed to travel.
Women were allowed in October last year, after a request from the state to the Railways Minister.
The authorities have appealed to all travellers to follow standard operating protocols when in the station or onboard the trains, including wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing to minimise contact with other people.
The authorities have also reminded people not to crowd railway stations if they are not among those allowed to travel at given times.
Earlier this week, railway officials told news agency PTI that an extra 204 special local services would be run on the Mumbai suburban network to balance demand and maintain social distancing.
Including the new services (which begin running from today), the total number of trains now running goes up to 2,985 , Central Railways told PTI. This is around 95 per cent of the 3,141 services being operated by both Central and Western Railways before the pandemic.
On Thursday Mumbai reported 394 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. This takes the caseload in the country's financial capital to around 3.07 lakh and the number of deaths to 11,326.
On Wednesday Mumbai reported 434 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths.
Maharashtra, the worst-affected state, saw its active caseload fall to around 44,000. The state has recorded over 20 lakh cases since the pandemic began in December 2019.
With input from PTI