The Mumbai local trains that reopened for the general public from February 1 are being attributed as one of the reasons behind the rise of coronavirus cases in the city. However, both the Central and Western Railways maintain they have ensured passengers follow Covid protocols while travelling in local trains.

“We have taken all precautions and the Western Railways is taking all necessary steps to check the spread of Covid-19,” said CPRO Western Railways, Sumit Thakur. “We are constantly sanitising our train rakes and we have a dedicated team for this. For the convenience of passengers, we have opened more than 300 booking counters. 1,300 services are running as of now, and we are fully abiding by the directives given by the state government,” he said.

“With the help of the government and BMC, our team is also penalising people who are not following the Covid protocol. We have fined 2,400 people and a fine of more than Rs 3 lakh has been collected,” added Thakur.

Regular announcement to wear masks is being broadcasted at all stations and violators are fined.

“We have teams from RPF and GRP that are deployed at sensitive spots to manage crowds. So there is no congestion and crowd accumulation at any given point,” said Central Railways CPRO Shivaji Sutar.

However, the BMC data shows that resumption of the local train service is seen as one of the reasons behind the spike in numbers in Mumbai. Till February 1, the daily positive cases were under 400, but by the end of the first week, the number surpassed the 500 mark.

By February 13, the cases were 599 and by February 20, Mumbai reported 897 fresh cases which is the highest since December last year. The Municipal body has tightened curbs and is taking strict action against violators of the Covid norms. The state government is monitoring the situation and will take a decision in the next eight days if cases continue to rise.

However, according to Thakur, there is no proposal from the government to restrict local services. He said: “There is no proposal to restrict services. Whatever directives we get from the State government, we will follow and inform.”

For now, around 95 percent of local services have resumed operations of both the western and central line that are used by almost 22 lakh commuters.

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