MUMBAI: As the Indian Railways resumed its passenger services on Tuesday amidst the coronavirus lockdown, the first train carrying 1,107 passengers chugged out of Mumbai for New Delhi, around 50 days after the services were suspended.
A Western Railway spokesperson said a total of 1487 passengers have booked tickets for the fully-air conditioned train, which departed at 5:30 pm.
While 97 of them will board at Surat, 83 will board at Vadodara, 23 at Ratlam and 177 at Kota junction en route Delhi, he said.
Earlier in the day, the Government Railway Police and the Railway Protection Force maintained strict vigil at the Mumbai Central station to avoid any law and order issue.
"All passengers were compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers were allowed to board the train," said a WR spokesperson.
Railway personnel made special arrangements for the passengers, including marking squares in and out of the station so that passengers could move forward in an orderly manner.
The railways regulated passengers even before the entry to the station.
Passengers were asked if they had downloaded the Aarogya Setu app and most of them answered in the affirmative, the officials said.
While all the passengers were wearing masks, a woman passenger travelling to Delhi to see her daughter wore a PPE suit, sources said.
WR said it had advised the passengers to travel with light baggage and bring their own linen.
The Mumbai-Delhi train was one of the 15 pairs of special trains that commenced their journey from various major places of the country on Tuesday.
Farah Khan, who was travelling with her two children to Delhi, said she had come to see her relatives in Mumbai in March and got stuck due to the lockdown.
Though Railways had asked passengers to reach the station at least 90 minutes to 2 hours before the departure of the train, some passengers had arrived at 9 am.
A passenger complained that those who reached early were made to wait inside a ticket booking hall while those arriving later were allowed to board the train before them.
"We were waiting for nearly two hours and there was no water or even toilet facilities inside," said Sanjay Sonputre who was on his way to Surat.
The WR said that it had advised all the passengers to adhere to social distancing norms during the journey.
"I do not have any issue with observing social distancing norms during the train journey," said Kapil Kumar, who was travelling to Delhi.
Railway officials said a special train departed for Mumbai from New Delhi, and it estimated to reach Mumbai Central around 8.45 am on Wednesday.
Since the lockdown came into force on March 25, Railways has been operating only goods and parcel trains.
On May 1, it started operating 'Shramik Special' trains, mainly for stranded migrants.