On Monday, services on the Yellow Line (Samyapur Badli-HUDA City Centre) linking north Delhi to Gurugram will start from 7am and over a period of next five days i.e, by September 12, rest of the metro corridors will also be made operational with all safety measures in place to check the spread of Covid-19 in the metro premises.
The DMRC has worked out a detailed cleaning & maintenance procedure in view of the pandemic.
Anuj Dayal, executive director (corporate communications), Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said commuters need to follow a new normal of social distancing, face mask and hand sanitisation with resumption of services
On this Monday and Tuesday, only the Yellow line (49km with 37 stations consisting of 20 underground and 17 elevated stations) will remain operational for a period of four hours each in the morning (7am to 11am) and evening (4pm to 8pm). Trains will be available with a frequency of varying from 2 minutes 44 seconds to 5 minutes 28 seconds at different stretches, with 57 trains performing around 462 trips.
“The same will be further extended in a graded manner from September 9 to 12 along with other Lines,” Dayal said.
“The resumption of services with a new normal to prevent the spread of Covid-19 desires public to understand and co-operate with DMRC/CISF personnel for a comfortable and safe commuting experience,” he added.
DMRC has advised commuters to use earmarked gates only as only one or two gates will be kept open for entry /exit of passengers at a station to maintain orderliness and regulate flow of passengers with social distancing norms.
The executive director (corporate communications) said, “Commuters are advised to check the earmarked gate number/location well in advance from DMRC website www.delhimetrorail.com”.
Apart from regular frontline staff at the stations, DMRC has made additional deployment of around 1,000 officials/staff across the line(s)/network to assist and guide passengers in the wake of new norms of metro travel which may take some time to settle in.
“All staff have been advised to manage the passengers with a positive and caring attitude in these testing times with initial focus on sensitising rather than punitive, on new norms to be followed continuously during the journey for their own and everyone’s safety,” he said, adding, All passengers are appealed to cooperate with the personnel on duty and keep listening to announcements on guidelines to be followed or updates on journey/services if any.
With the carrying capacity of a train drastically reduced to around 20 per cent of the pre-lockdown period due to social distancing norms, it will be a challenge to regulate the passengers who may head to a station with the expectations of the pre-lockdown travel experience by the metro. Therefore, in this changed scenario, DMRC has advised public to avoid unnecessary travel as far as possible.
Anuj said, “Try to stagger travel timings for office/home/other works to the extent possible so that the carrying capacity offered with new norms can be reasonably utilised by creating a travel pattern in which people are not rushing to the station in morning or peak hours only”.
“Rather, they are coming equitably at all hours of the operational timings of the metro services to ‘break the peak’- a requirement of the present times. Besides ‘Break the Peak’, DMRC appeals to commuters to ‘Talk Less’ during travel in the Metro to prevent the possibility of short-range aerosol transmission,” he added.
The executive director said, “To prevent the overcrowding in trains/stations, situations might arise wherein, DMRC may have to opt for starting certain empty trains from terminal stations or short loop some trains to manage the crowded zones on a particular route/section. This dynamic regulation of train movement will be based on the ground situation at given hours and one may have to skip a train or two, leading to extra time in completing the travel”.
Dayal said that similarly, dwell time was also increased by 10-20 seconds at stations for boarding-de-boarding to ensure social distancing.
“This may also increase the total travel time in a journey by a few minutes. In view of these factors, passengers are advised to keep extra time of about 15 to 30 minutes for each travel, to be on time for their desired destinations,” he said, adding, use of ‘AarogyaSetu’ app with regular health status update is advisable for commuters with smart phones.
Smart card is a must for metro travel now as tokens wouldn’t be issued. “It is contactless, easily rechargeable through online modes and offers a discount up to 20 per cent on every travel. Tokens will not be available at the stations for the time being as they need frequent human interface for travel transactions and pose a risk of Coronavirus infection,” he said.
He further added, “Transactions involving the exchange of cash for recharge/refund of smart cards will not be permitted for the time being as the physical handling of currency may lead to transmission of coronavirus. The commuters are requested to cooperate with DMRC staff in this aspect to prevent the spread of virus”.
“Public is advised to travel with minimum luggage and avoid carrying metallic items for a faster frisking at entry points. Keep only pocket size hand sanitizers, if any, during the travel. Hand sanitizers will not be permitted beyond 30ml quantity from the safety point of view,” Anuj said.
“For better management of crowd at/outside stations, DMRC is also in touch with the authorities to provide around 1,000 civil defence volunteers. Some major stations have also been identified where law enforcement agencies such as local police, etc., will be roped in to monitor law and order situation outside vulnerable areas,” he added.
“Also, a request has been made to the authorities to arrange for the antigen testing of around 15,000 staff of DMRC who will be handling the public throughout the day now. This will go a long way in ensuring Covid free atmosphere in running the services,” he said.
Delhi Metro operates 389km of metro network with 285 stations in Delhi-NCR, including Rapid Metro in Gurugram and Aqua Line of Noida-Greater Noida Metro. About 70 per cent of its passengers used to travel by using smart cards.