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COVID-19: With new rules, Metro services across India resume after 169-day hiatus

The Home Ministry had recently issued guidelines allowing metro services in the country to resume operations in a graded manner.

Published: 07th September 2020 08:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2020 12:24 PM   |  A+A-

Chennai Metro Rail is getting prepared for operation from Monday. (Photo | Martin Louis/EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Metro resumed services with curtailed operations on the Yellow Line on Monday after being closed for over five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as both the DMRC and the commuters trod with caution amid the new normal in the rapid transport system.

The trains will operate in batches of four-hour each from 7-11 am in the morning and 4-8 pm in the evening, officials said.

The services resumed at 7 am with strict safety and social distancing measures in place.

The first trains left from Samaypur Badli station to HUDA City Centre station and simultaneously from HUDA City Centre to Samaypur Badli, a senior official of DMRC said.

"We are on our way. It's been 169 days since we've seen you! Travel responsibly and commute if it's only necessary.

#MetroBackOnTrack," the DMRC tweeted and posted a video clip of the first train leaving HUDA City Centre No stations on the Yellow Line were closed as none is in proximity to any containment zone, the official said.

As the day began, some riders wearing protective masks were seen entering the premises of key stations like Kashmere Gate and Hauz Khas on the Yellow Line, which connects Samyapur Badli in Delhi to HUDA City Centre in Gurgaon.

"A few happy faces from our first journey after more than 5 months. #MetroBackOnTrack," the DMRC said in another tweet and posted pictures of some commuters wearing masks inside train coaches.

On the station premises, passengers were permitted to enter the concourse only after temperature checks with thermal guns and sanitisation of hands.

Hundreds of Delhi Metro ground staff and Central Industrial Security Force personnel wore face shields, masks and gloves as preventive measures against the pathogen.

The Home Ministry had recently issued guidelines allowing metro services in the country to resume operations in a graded manner, following which the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had said it would be done in three stages from September 7-12.

Under stage one, Yellow Line or Line 2 and Rapid Metro were made operational with restricted service hours, a DMRC official said.

Metro services in the National Capital Region were closed since March 22 due to the pandemic.

The DMRC has appealed to people to use the rapid transport only if urgently needed.

Wearing of masks inside train coaches and station premises is mandatory, and those found violating the guidelines would be fined by authorities.

The metro services resumed a day after Delhi registered 3,256 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day spike in 72 days, taking the tally to over 1.91 lakh.

Commuters are returning to the Delhi Metro stations and coaches after a huge gap of 169 days, with COVID-19 completely changing the paradigm of operations.

Use of Aarogya Setu App by commuters is advisable, the DMRC has said.

In keeping with the new normal, the Delhi Metro has taken a slew of measures to ensure least physical contact for riders, like automated thermal screening-cum-sanitiser dispenser and lift-calling system driven by a foot pedal at several stations.

Inside coaches, commuters are to sit on alternate seats and maintain prescribed distance even while standing.

Stickers have been put up on alternate seats and on platforms so that riders adhere to social-distancing norms.

Special posters have been put up inside coaches and on station premises to raise awareness, besides regular announcements on safety norms.

The DMRC had also appealed to commuters on Sunday to "talk less inside trains to prevent the possibility of short-range aerosol transmission".

Officials of the urban transporter had earlier cautioned that "trains may not stop at some of the stations" if social-distancing norms were not adhered to by passengers.

"This is a new normal and an evolving scenario, so we will anyway be assessing the situation as we go along," an official said.

The DMRC has 10 lines spanning 242 stations, and 264 stations, including the Rapid Metro in Gurgaon.

"Today and tomorrow, 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)," the DMRC said.

"Trains will be available with a headway (frequency) varying from 2'44" to 5'28" (at different stretches) with 57 trains performing around 462 trips. The same will be further extended in a graded manner from September 9-12 along with other lines," it said on Sunday.

Over a period of next five days, rest of the lines will also be made operational with all safety measures, officials said.

In lifts, only three people at maximum can ride at a time.

The stoppage duration of trains at a station has been increased from 10-15 seconds to 20-25 seconds, and at interchange facilities, from 35-40 seconds to 55-60 seconds.

"Commuters showing COVID-like symptoms will not be allowed to travel and they will be directed to the nearest heathcare facility," the official said.

Inside stations, entries to which have been heavily curtailed, the CISF staff performed "contactless frisking" and red lines drawn at a gap of 1 ft near automated fare collection gates and on the concourse.

Only smart card users were allowed to travel, which can be recharged digitally without any human interface, the official said, adding tokens were not to be issued as per the plan.

Recharge or purchase of smart cards at ticket vending machines or customer care centre will be through cashless mode only, the official said.

On regular days, the average daily ridership of the Delhi Metro is over 26 lakhs.

Metro Rail services resume in Kochi

The Kochi Metro on Monday resumed services after being suspended for over five months due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The services between Thykoodam and Aluva were resumed at 7 am, adhering to COVID-19 protocol, a Kochi Metro spokesman said.

He said trains will run from 7 am to 9 pm with 10 minute breaks.

"There is no rush. The services are being carried out adhering to the restrictions to prevent spread of coronavirus," a Kochi Metro official said.

Officials said measures are in place to frequently disinfect all the areas in the stations where the passengers are likely to touch and passengers are under surveillance to ensure that they follow social distancing norms.

In a bid to reduce contact, cashless transactions are encouraged and for this, use of Kochi One card is promoted, they said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate a new stretch between Thykoodam and Pettah near Tripunithura on Monday afternoon.

With the inauguration of the 1.15 km stretch, the first phase of Kochi Metro will be completed, officials said.

Kochi Metro launched its first service from Aluva to Palarivattom in June 2017 and the stretch up to the Maharaja's College Ground was commissioned in October in the same year.

The stretch from Maharaja's College junction to Thykoodam was inaugurated in September last year.

ALSO READ | Safety first as Bengaluru's Namma Metro gets set to roll post COVID lockdown

Metro Rail services resume in Bengaluru after over five months

Metro Rail services in the city resumed on Monday after being closed for over five months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

As part of Unlock 4.0, Metro Rail services started on the Purple Line from Byappanahalli station at 8 am towards Mysuru Road and vice versa.

"The six-coach train from Byappanahalli had 12 passengers whereas 15 to 16 passengers boarded the train at the Nayandahalli station on Mysuru Road," a BMRCL official told P T I.

The official said people appear to be very cautious.

He was, however, optimistic that things would gradually improve in the coming days.

Services on the Metro Green Line from Yelachenahalli to Nagasandra will start from Wednesday.

These trains will operate only for six hours only during peak hours from 8 am to 11 am and 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm till September 10.

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.

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, the BMRCL said.

The BMRCL said it will not open gates in those stations which are located in the containment zones.

The Metro Rail also made it clear that all passengers will have to use smart cards as it will not sell tokens.

Even 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 officials said the BMRCL has incurred huge loss to the tune of crores of rupees during the lockdown as the operations were suspended during the period.

Hyderabad Metro operations resume in graded manner

Hyderabad Metro Rail services resumed operations on the Miyapur-LB Nagar route on Monday after a gap of over five months following the COVID-19 guidelines.

Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) and L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited authorities said metro train services between Corridor 1(Miyapur to LB Nagar) has started while metro operations will be resumed in graded manner on other routes.

"We are happy that we were permitted to resume the metro rail services. We are taking all precautions and are strictly following the COVID-19 guidelines to prevent spreading of the virus in Metro travel," HMRL Managing Director NVS Reddy told PTI.

Ordinary people were facing a lot of problems in reaching their places of work or destination in the absence of public transport, Reddy said.

Services are being operated from 7 am to noon and 4 pm to 9 pm, he said.

Wearing of a face mask is mandatory for all passengers and staff.

Metro Rail has made arrangements for supply of masks on payment basis to people arriving without mask.

Suitable penalty as per regulation shall be imposed for any violation, the officials said.

Smart Card and Mobile QR tickets with cashless/online transactions were encouraged for the safety of passengers.

In order to ensure social distancing, suitable markings at stations and inside trains were done for passengers to stand, the officials said.

ALSO READ | Chennai Metro rail introduces contact-less QR ticketing

Only asymptomatic persons will be allowed to travel after thermal screening at entry into the stations.

Proper PPE kits and sanitisers have been provided to employees/ security personnel.

Considering the potential of coronavirus to spread quickly, security personnel/ private guards have been instructed to ensure adequate safety while frisking commuters without diluting security drills, they said.

In Phase-II, fromSeptember 8 onwards services will commence on Corridor 3 (Nagole to Raidurg) while in Phase-III fromSeptember 9 onwards all the three Corridors (C1, C2 and C3) would be made operational, the officials said.

Frequency of trains will be around five minutes and it will be increased or decreased based on passenger traffic and to avoid crowding, they said adding stations in containment zones have been closed.

The total operational length of the elevated Hyderabad Metro Rail project is 69 km.

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