Western Railway runs special services to ferry personnel to workplace

Iram Siddique
India lockdown, Western railway, special train, coronavirus outbreak, Mumbai news, Indian express news

According to senior WR officials, the railway staff was denied permission to board both the buses operated by BEST undertaking and MSRTC, which were under the impression that the railway has been shut down.

The Western Railway (WR) on Tuesday ran a six-workmen special train to ferry its staff from Virar to Churchgate, after several of its employees had trouble reaching their workplace on Monday following the complete lockdown of the suburban network.

The special train with six sleeper coaches of long-distance trains was operated using a diesel locomotive engine that catered to not only the railway employees but also cancer patients and those under other essential services, such as workers of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and police officers, all of who were allowed to enter only after showing appropriate identity cards.

According to senior WR officials, the railway staff was denied permission to board both the buses operated by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking and Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), which were under the impression that the railway has been shut down.

"A lot of out staff was not allowed to board these buses after which we had to approach the state government to intervene and facilitate their movement during the rest of the day," said a senior railway official from WR.

Several other staff were stuck with poor frequency of buses from stations. Several essential staff such as the those in the control room monitoring train movements and loco pilots of goods trains could not report to work.

The WR then took special permission from the Railway Board and operated six special services that started from Virar at 7 am to reach Churchagte at 8.40 am to ferry those for the morning shift while the second service took those from the night shift back home at 9.10 am and reached Virar 10.50 am. Similarly, another service left from Virar in the afternoon at 2 pm and the third left at 7 pm.

The CPRO of WR said, "Our staff faced a lot of challenges in these buses, which had poor frequency and they were not allowed to board. We have operated special services to facilitate their movement and only those with appropriate ID cards were allowed to board and social distancing was maintained."

The WR used a sleeper coach with a light engine to run these services to ensure that no people don't get the perception that a local train is working. "These trains will be operated until suburban services are restored," added Bhakar.

A WR personnel who works at the divisional office at Mumbai Central and boarded the train from Santacruz said, "It was much easier taking this train. Other passengers such as cancer patients were allowed to board on humanitarian grounds."

According to union leaders, several staffers, despite have valid passes and ID cards, were charged for their travel while earlier it was stated that they will not be charged.