As Unlock 3.0 is nearing its end, the fourth phase of the ‘Unlock’ is about to begin from September 1 across the country. The guidelines of ‘Unlock 4.0’ were announced yesterday by the Ministry of Home Affairs, under which the ministry allowed metro services to resume across the country from September 7.
Since the MHA has allowed the metro to resume its operations, people living in Mumbai are also demanding local train services to resume in the city. The MHA did not state anything in its ‘Unlock 4’ guidelines on the resumption of train services. It was speculated before that the services might resume from the month of September.
The local train services were stopped in March due to the novel coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns. For essential workers and emergency staff, the Mumbai locals resumed its operations from June 15, after remaining non-operational for almost 2 months.
While the government has allowed people to start working from the office, local trains are still shut which in turn are causing trouble for a lot of office goers as they mainly depend on the trains as a means of transport. Other public transports are also not fully operational.
When will local train services resume?
Mumbaikars had hoped that the local train services would resume under the ‘Unlock 4’ phase. However, MHA has given no decision in this regard as per the guidelines announced yesterday.
Central Railway, which operates Mumbai Locals, had earlier clarified its position on the reopening of Mumbai locals. It said that it is prepared and set to resume operations for the general public if the state government demands the Union Railway Ministry and if the Railway Ministry gives its nod regarding the same.
Earlier, Shalabh Goel, divisional railway manager of Central Railway’s Mumbai division had said that the railways will come up with a Standard Operating Procedure for local train travel in consultation with the state authorities before the resumption of full-fledged operations of suburban locals in the city.
The CR will also allow the students giving NEET and JEE exams to travel on suburban locals if the state permits them to travel, he had said.
The Central Railway on August 27 installed a QR code reader at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and 14 suburban railway stations to check QR code-based e-passes issued to essential and emergency services staff, who are allowed to travel by train during the lockdown.
Goel said that the CR had introduced two suburban services — one each in up and down directions — on harbour line from Thursday to reduce overcrowding on suburban locals during peak hours.
Unlock 4.0 guidelines
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines for Unlock 4.0 on Saturday with more relaxations and opening up of more activities in areas outside the containment zones. This marks the gradual opening of the economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
As part of Unlock 4.0 guidelines, open-air theatres will resume operations from September 21, cinema halls, entertainment parks, and similar places will continue to remain closed.
Metro rail will resume services from September 7 in a ‘calibrated manner’.
Schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity up to September 30. However, from September 21, outside containment zones, States/ UTs may permit up to 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to the schools at a time for online teaching/ tele-counselling and related work.
The guidelines come into effect from September 1.