CHENNAI: Nearly two weeks after the state government urged that suburban train services be restored in Chennai, the railways announced that employees of private companies engaged in essential sectors like health, sanitation and education will be allowed to travel in 'workmen specials' operated on Chennai suburban routes.
Due to the lockdown restrictions, only railway staff and a section of government staff were allowed to travel on suburban trains so far.
According to an official order, essential service staff who are allowed to travel in suburban trains are as follows: health and sanitation workers engaged by both government and private agencies; workers involved in handling of essential commodities and essential services in both government and private sectors; employees of education institutions; workers of private security agencies; logistics and transportation companies involved in movement of goods and passengers; NGOs involved in child care, old age homes, health and education services; employees of print and electronic media and advocates who are members of the bar council.
The suburban specials are being operated on the Chennai Beach - Chengalpattu, Chennai Beach - Gummidipundi, Arakkonam - Chennai Central, Chennai - Gummidipoondi and Chennai Beach - Velachery sections. In addition, passenger trains are operated on the Arakkonam - Jolarpettai route.
"The total number of train services has increased to 154 a day and the relaxation for private company employees came into effect recently," said a senior railway official.
The travellers should produce a letter of authorisation from the company along with a photo identity card at the ticket counters for purchasing the tickets. Both single journey and season tickets will be issued at the booking counters available at all suburban stations.
"The relaxation has been given for those engaged in essential services. Hence, the private company in its authorisation letter should certify that the traveller is engaged in essential services. In addition, the letter should contain the route on which the person is authorised to travel," said the railway official, adding that there was no maximum limit for the number of essential service staff per company.
The suburban specials were operated since April for ferrying the railway employees to carry out essential maintenance work. Later, as the lockdown norms lightened, more railways staff were allowed to travel in the specials. Since October 5, the railways allowed transportation of essential service employees nominated by the state government.
On October 23, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami wrote to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal urging him to resume suburban services in Chennai to boost economic activities.