Mumbai locals, the iconic and gargantuan system of suburban commuter trains, will stop ferrying the general public from today (March 22) in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The railway network, which keeps India’s financial capital and its adjacent urban regions chugging, will serve only those providing essential services, besides government employees, the New Indian Express newspaper reported, citing an official notification. The restriction will be in place till March 31.
The local trains, often referred to as Mumbai’s lifeline, have in recent memory been hit by the floods of 2005 and 2017 and bomb blasts in 2006. Every time, the service has sprung back within a few hours. Even the November 2008 terror attack did not disrupt it.
Keeping it off-limits for the general public for 10 whole days is, thus, an extraordinary step for the system.
Till yesterday, India had 315 confirmed cases of Covid-19; Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, had the highest (63) among all states.
Considering the number of people it ferries—eight million a day, 5,000 per trip during peak hours—this drastic measure is a prudent one, especially since parts of the state have already been put under a lockdown by the administration.
The dabbawalas, an army of super-efficient lunch-box delivery persons and another identifiable city icon, will also be off the streets till March 31.