Kolkata Metro Mulls Drastic Cut in Passengers Count, Mandatory Thermal Screening, Use of Masks

To ensure strict adherence to social distancing norms, the Kolkata metro railway is planning to "drastically" reduce the number of passengers in its trains once it resumes operations, an official said on Friday.

She said preparations have begun for restarting services in the city with stress on maintaining social distancing at stations and inside the trains.

The metro railway will abide by guidelines issued by the Centre for resumption, the official said.

"We plan to drastically reduce the number of passengers to avoid crowding and discourage non-essential travel," Kolkata metro railway spokesperson Indrani Banerjee said.

Movement of passengers will be regulated at entry points as well as at smart gates, she said.

"In order to ensure that trains are not crowded and passengers maintain social distancing norms inside coaches, the metro railway, which normally carries 6 to 6.5 lakh people on a weekday, may ferry just one-third of the usual number," Banerjee said.

Rules and regulations will have to be followed for safety of passengers, even if that leads to a substantial dip in revenue for the state-run transporter, the official said.

"We will urge passengers to use smart cards instead of tokens since it changes hands several times in a day and can be a source of contamination," she said.

The number of ticket counters will also be reduced to maintain a gap between queues.

Banerjee said all passengers will undergo thermal screening and wearing of face masks will be made mandatory.

The metro authorities, however, expect footfalls to be low once it resumes services as schools and colleges are closed, and government offices are functioning with reduced staff.

Metro railway officials will also hold discussions with the state government before recommencing services, she said, adding, there are many red zones through which the north-south alignment passes.