Noting that railway services need to correspond with the partial lifting of lockdown, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday suggested an increase in the frequency of local trains being run in Mumbai to check overcrowding. A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni said currently the Maharashtra government has permitted several sectors to resume and hence, it is high time the frequency of trains is also increased.
"We are now in partial lockdown. Malls are open, hotels are allowed to remain open, government offices are working with 100 per cent staff and several other sectors are now working. Railway services need to correspond with this," the court said. "The frequency of local trains on all three lines (western, central and harbour lines) has to be increased to reduce overcrowding, the bench said.
The court directed the state government to consider its suggestions and see if it can forward a proposal to the Railways for an increase in the frequency of trains. The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions, seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to include lawyers and their clerical staff under essential services and permit them to use the local trains to attend court and their office.
Last month, the high court directed the state government to permit lawyers, who had to attend physical hearings in courts, to use the trains. The court on Wednesday said the number of trains should be increased to 600 on the central and harbour lines and up to 700 on the western line.
"We cannot direct the Railways or the state government to increase the frequency. But, we hope and trust that the state government responds favourably to our suggestions," the court said in its order. "Our suggestion is not just for lawyers and their staff, but for the general public too, it said.
The Central Railway runs its services from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in south Mumbai) to Kasara (in Thane) and Khopoli (in Raigad) on the main line, and from CSMT to Panvel (Navi Mumbai) and Goregaon on the harbour line. The Western Railway runs its suburban services from Churchgate in south Mumbai to Dahanu in Palghar district.
The HC also directed the bar associations of each court in Mumbai, Thane, Raigad and Palghar district to inform the number of lawyers who would be willing to attend physical hearings of courts and intend to travel by local trains. The bench posted the plea for further hearing on October 9.