There is no relief yet for Mumbai train passengers waiting for the restrictions to be lifted. A notification issued by the Central and Western Railways stating that they will be increasing services on their Mumbai Suburban Railway network from January 29 had led to a misunderstanding that the city's lifeline will be resuming to pre-pandemic times and will permit everybody to travel.
The spokespersons of both the railway services have, however, clarified that only the number of trains plying on the route are being increased; the restrictions on people allowed to use the services are still applicable. Western Railways also tweeted that only the passengers permitted to officially travel by the government can avail of the increased services. Central Railway has decided increase the suburban services from the existing 1580 to 1685 services and Western Railway has decided to increase the existing 1201 suburban services to 1300 services.
This confusion arose due to newspaper headines by several publications including DNA who misleadingly mentioned that services were resuming for the general public from January 29. But on closer reading of the story, the text does mention that both the railway divisions are only increasing services for the existing people allowed to travel.
Local train services for essential staff resumed on June 15 last year after it was completely shut in March 2020. Currently, only persons carrying official government ids along with health workers are permitted to travel across the day in the trains. Women who are not a part of the previous category were permitted to travel between 11am-3pm and 7pm till the last local, October onwards.
In the same month, the railway authorities also permitted practising lawyers and registered clerks of advocates to travel in local trains during the same hours as women but later were even allowed to travel in the morning. They even allowed teachers, as well as non-teaching school staff, to board trains in November.
The evening peak hours of 4pm-7pm are still only restricted for essential staff.
There is no official word on resuming services for the general public, yet.