New Delhi, Sep 06: After being closed for over five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro services across the country are all set to resume in a graded manner from Monday. The stations in Covid-19 containment zones will, however, remain closed.
The Union housing and urban affairs ministry has said that trains will not stop at stations where passengers are found not maintaining social distancing.
Metro services were suspended in late March when the government announced a nationwide lockdown to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) authorities on Sunday reiterated that stations located in containment zones, as per the status on the day of journey, will remain closed.
Officials of the urban transporter had earlier cautioned that "trains may not stop at some of the stations" if social distancing norms are not adhered to by passengers.
The Delhi Metro services will be resumed in a staggered manner in three stages from September 7-12, with the Yellow Line or Line 2 connecting Samyapur Bali in Delhi to HUDA City Centre in Gurgaon and the Rapid Metro to be the first ones to be made operational on September 7.
Trains will operate in batches of four-hour each from 7-11 am in the morning and 4-8 pm in the evening in the first stage, officials said.
Metro services in Delhi-NCR have been closed since March 22 due to the pandemic. The services will be resumed after a gap of 169 days, the DMRC said in a statement on Sunday.
"On this Monday and Tuesday, only the Yellow line (49 km span with 37 stations -- 20 underground and 17 elevated ones) will remain operational for a period of four hours each in the morning (7 AM to 11 AM) and evening (4 PM to 8 PM)," it said.
Over a period of next five days, rest of the lines will also be made operational with all safety measures in place to check the spread of COVID-19 in the metro premises which requires everyone to follow a new normal of social distancing, face mask use and regular hand sanitisation, the officials said.
"However, we appeal to commuters to use metro services only when urgently needed to travel via metro and also avoid using it when they are not feeling healthy.
Commuters showing COVID-like symptoms will not be allowed to travel and they will be directed to the nearest healthcare facility," a senior official said.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the new normal, the Delhi Metro has taken a slew of measures to ensure least physical contact for riders when it resumes services, like an automated thermal screening-cum-sanitiser dispenser and lift calling system driven by a foot pedal.
On Thursday, a preview was held for media persons at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station to give an actual feel of the new normal the commuters will experience, from the point of entering station premises to boarding a coach.
A city police official said, wearing of masks inside the premises and inside trains is mandatory, and "challans will be used if they violate this".
Use of Aarogya Setu App by commuters will be advisable, it said.
Officials said at all stations, the CISF staff will be doing "contactless frisking" and red lines have been drawn at a gap of 1 ft to ensure social distancing during queuing.
At the point of entry at 45 stations, automated thermal screening-cum-sanitiser dispensers have been installed, which can read a commuter's body temperature once he or she puts the forehead in front of it, and sanitiser will drop from a dispenser below, once hands are kept below the nozzle, the officials said.
This facility will be available at 17 metro stations, including Rajiv Chowk, Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat and Vishwavidyalaya stations of the Yellow Line, which resume services on September 7.
At other stations, auto-dispenser for sanitiser will be there, but thermal screening will be done manually using a thermal gun, the officials said.
Also, at 16 metro stations spanning 50 lifts, including at Kashmere Gate, Rajiv Chowk, IGI Airport, Hauz Khas, and Mandi House, push-button facilities to call a lift has been disabled, and commuters can press a foot pedal to call it, and beyond that the lift will operate automatically, from vertical movement to opening and closing of doors.
Also as per the COVID-19 safety norms, a maximum of three passengers will be allowed in a lift at a time at any station, a senior official said.
Inside the coaches, commuters will have to sit on alternate seats and maintain prescribed distance even while standing.
Stickers have been put up on alternate seats and on platforms to maintain social distancing.
On Sunday, the DMRC also appealed to commuters to "talk less inside trains to prevent the possibility of short-range aerosol transmission".
The stoppage duration of trains will be longer, and from 10-15 seconds at each station it will be increased to 20-25 seconds, and at interchange facilities, it will be increased from 35-40 seconds to 55-60 seconds, when services resume.
The DMRC has 10 lines spanning 242 stations, and 264 stations including the Rapid Metro in Gurgaon.
Delhi Metro will resume services two days after the city recorded 2,973 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day spike in 71 days, as the tally in the city mounted to over 1.88 lakh.
"This is a new normal and an evolving scenario, so we will anyway be assessing the situation once we resume services," a senior official said.
Only smart card users, including QR code users on Airport Express Line, will be allowed to travel, which can be recharged digitally without any human interface, the official said.
The first run will start on the Purple Line from Monday while the trains on Green Line will operate from September 9.
In the Purple Line, the trains will run for six hours till September 10 only during the peak hours -- three hours in the morning from 8 am to 11 am and 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm.
In the Green Line, the trains will operate for two days only during peak hours -- three hours in the morning and three in the evening. From September 11 onwards, the trains will ply on both the lines from 7 am to 9 pm.
"The number of commuters allowed in each train is limited to 400 passengers to ensure social distancing norms," a BMRCL official said.
According to BMRCL, the dwell time in each station will be 60 seconds so that passengers shall maintain social distancing while boarding and deboarding. At the Kempe Gowda interchange station, the dwell time will be 75 seconds.
Gates will not be opened in stations coming under the containment zones, it said. The Metro Rail has also made it clear that all passengers will have to use smart cards as token tickets will not be sold. No card recharge will be done at the stations. Instead, the passengers will have to top up their cards using the BMRCL's mobile application.
In place of card readers at the entry and exit points, there will be flash readers. Metro Rail authorities noted that the BMRCL incurred huge loss to the tune of crores of rupees during the lockdown.
With Lucknow Metro set to resume operations from Monday, it will become the first metro service in India to use ultraviolet (UV) technology for token sanitisation for passenger safety, the organisation said in a statement here.
Kumar Keshav, Managing Director of Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC), on Sunday conducted an inspection and checked an overview of operational preparedness from Hazratganj to Munshipulia stations.
A special interactive session was also conducted at CCS Airport metro station for media persons showcasing the safety measures adopted and other arrangements done by Lucknow Metro catering for the safety of commuters.
In a statement issued here, the Lucknow Metro said it has laid special emphasis on contactless travel, sanitisation, social distancing, hygiene and cleanliness. Various rigorous steps have been undertaken to ensure a safe and convenient commuting experience for passengers.
Social distancing markers have been placed on alternate seats to maintain sufficient gap between passengers inside the train.
Frequently touched areas inside trains like grab rails, grab poles, grab handles, passenger seats and door surfaces from the inside are sanitised regularly.
Lucknow Metro has also become the first metro with cashless facility of multiple tokens/tickets with GoSmart card.
A GoSmart user has a contactless trip right from entering the metro station, boarding the train to exiting the premises. The automatic sensor of AFC gates detects the card from a distance without tapping it. So, the only thing a GoSmart card user comes in contact with are the sanitised train seats.
Social distancing markings and signages are in place at all stations to ensure an adequate gap among passengers while queuing up near ticket counters, ticket vending machines, security check frisking points, entry-exit AFC gates, etc, the statement further said.
Face masks will be made available to commuters on payment basis at three stations of the Noida-Greater Noida Metro, which resumes service from Monday after a gap of over five months, officials said on Sunday.
The Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) had suspended the rail service in March amid COVID-19 outbreak and has announced a slew of guidelines including social distancing and face covers/masks for commuters from Monday.
Commuters have also been warned of a fine of Rs 500 if found without face mask and Rs 100 for spitting in trains and on metro premises.
The NMRC has set up counters at a few selected metro stations where masks will be available on payment basis for needy commuters for a minimum of Rs 5 and maximum Rs 30 for each mask.
The stations where these counters will be set up are Sector 51, NSEZ and Pari Chowk, NMRC Managing Director Ritu Maheshwari said in a statement.
The masks are being made by Ranganathan Society for Social Welfare, an NGO being run with the support of BIMTECH (Birla Institute of Management Technology) as a means to generate livelihood for families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
This is a way of encouraging the general public to wear masks whenever they have to travel in the metro, Maheshwari added. Meanwhile, trial runs of the metro were conducted again between Noida and Greater Noida to check preparedness of the services.
NMRC Executive Director Praveen Mishra conducted a detailed inspection of the complete Aqua Line. The NMRC also ran the full train trials of the trains according to the time table that will be followed from September 7 onwards, according to a statement.
The NMRC had earlier said only passengers with face mask and body temperature not more than 37.7 degrees Celsius shall be allowed entry, as it stressed the need to follow social distancing norms, among other rules and regulations set by the government amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The trains would run from 7 am to 11 am and 5 pm to 9 pm with a frequency of 15 minutes from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays the services will start from 8 am, it had added.
The Aqua Line, which connects the twin cities of Noida and Greater Noida in Gautam Buddh Nagar, over a distance of 29 km through 15 stations has an average daily ridership of around 25,000 passengers, according to officials.
The Metro Railway in Kolkata is planning to run special services for NEET candidates on September 13 to help them reach their examination centres, atop official said Saturday.
As per the plan, candidates along with guardians will be allowed to board the trains on showing their admit cards, Metro Railway general manager Manoj Joshi said. He said the modalities are being worked out and the details will be shared next week. The metro authorities are yet to announce the date of resuming normal services.
The Gurugram District Administration will appoint a nodal officer who will be in touch with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials in order to facilitate Metro operations in the city.
The DMRC has five Metro stations in Gurugram - Huda City Centre, Iffco Chowk, MG Road, Sikandarpur and Guru Dronacharya.
"For smooth operation of the Delhi Metro, we have decided to appoint a nodal officer who will remain in touch with Metro officials for smooth functioning of services in Gurugram," said Amit Khatri, Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram.
Apart from this, the health officials said, the list of health centres and Covid-19 hospitals will be made available to the representative of DMRC near the five metro stations falling in the district of Gurugram so far.
If any passenger is found infected from corona it can be sent there for further treatment.