Alok Kansal – General Manager of Western Railway interacted with the representatives of print & electronic media of Mumbai Division through a virtual press conference and addressed on various issues related to Covid 19. It includes running of additional trains for the convenience of long-distance train passengers, compliance of corona protocols at stations and trains, security measures for crowd management, COVID vaccination drive for the railway employees and others.
According to a press release issued by Sumit Thakur – Chief Public Relations Officer of Western Railway, GM Alok Kansal at the outset informed that, presently Western Railway is running 266 long distance trains which were run in the pre COVID period. This is almost 90% of the 310 trains which were being run in the pre COVID period. Further, to cope with the increase in passengers due to the festive season, 30 pairs of festival special trains were introduced in Jan 2021 upto March 2021, which have now been extended upto June 2021.
With the onset of summer rush, several more trains will be soon run for the convenience of passengers. Kansal informed that 14 summer special trains have been identified for various destinations, especially for Patna, Gorakhpur, Bhagalpur, Ghazipur, Guwahati and will be introduced in the next few days. Similarly, the waiting list of trains is monitored daily and additional coaches are attached to existing trains with substantial Waitlisted passengers to clear the rush. In the month of March alone, WR temporarily augmented more than 575 coaches in 42 trains to clear the extra rush.
Further speaking GM appealed the passengers to avoid crowding at railway station premises. He clarified once again that only confirmed passengers will be allowed to enter the station premises and no other persons will be permitted to enter the station premises. The platform tickets are also not being issued following the COVID protocols.
At some stations, it has been noticed that long distance train passengers are gathering at stations in advance to avoid the curfew timings imposed by the Municipal / State authorities. W.Rly is requesting the concerned authorities to permit passengers with valid and confirmed tickets to travel during the curfew timings to avoid overcrowding at station. Ticket checking has been intensified to curb unauthorised passengers. In the month of March 2021, Rs. 2.75 crores were realised as fine in this regard. Also, the presence of RPF /GRP staff as well as Ticket Checking staff have been upped at stations to streamline the inflow of passengers.
Security measures have been also beefed up at stations as well as in trains. More than 570 RPF & GRP staff have been deployed for escorting in 194 trains, generally during night time on eight identified routes. Marshalls have been deputed by MCGM to penalize commuters without masks in railway premises.
Speaking on the occasion regarding the vaccination of railway employees with COVID vaccine, Kansal stated that W. Rly has coordinated with respective State Governments and municipal authorities for undertaking the vaccination programme. It is worth mentioning that the vaccination drive at Jagjivan Ram Hospital, Mumbai was launched by GM himself on 8th March, 2021 by taking the first dose of vaccination. He has set a precedence to all the eligible employees to come forward for the COVID vaccine.
As on date, about 20,000 vaccination jabs have been given to employees & their families over W. Rly. Daily, more than 250 vaccines are given at Jagjivan Ram Hospital whereas around 1000 vaccines are given at Divisional Hospitals over W. Rly to medical and paramedical staff, frontline staff and employees. 100% RPF staff and almost 90% of medical staff have been covered. Efforts are underway to cover the entire staff of Railways, especially, those who are frontline staff.
Kansal also informed that 410 isolation coaches are available with W. Rly out of which 152 coaches are in Mumbai Division. These coaches will be ready and made available for use as per the demand placed by the respective State Government. He
also requested everyone entering railway premises to adhere all norms, SOPs related to COVID – 19 during the boarding, travel and at destination. He said that W. Rly is ensuring all possible efforts to run additional trains and to augment existing trains with additional coaches for the convenience of passengers.
GM also requested to refrain from sharing unconfirmed and fake videos and to break the chain of rumours alongwith COVID. W. Rly is also conducting extensive awareness campaigns on Covid Appropriate Behaviour and Protocols to be followed through attractive infographics, webcards, e – posters & videos on social media platforms and digital screens at stations.
The media interaction was also joined by Principal Head of Departments (PHODs), Divisional railway Manager of Mumbai Central Division alongwith around 40 reporters from both print & electronic media.