CHENNAI: As part of the preparatory measures to resume train services, the Southern Railway has started earmarking space with a one-metre gap to maintain social distance at the Egmore railway station. The department is also planning to use thermal body scanners on passengers after the resumption of services.
The Egmore station has two entrances — from Gandhi Erwin Road and Poonamallee Highway (EVR Salai). Passengers will have lines marked with a three-foot distance from both entrances till the platforms, officials said.
“A yellow line has been drawn on the floor to help passengers observe social distance while walking and standing at the station. More signages will be put up soon to guide them,” a senior official said.
Considering the severity of the pandemic, services will be resumed in a phased manner and it may take several weeks for all services to resume, railway sources said.
Therefore, the department has asked the zones to draw lines at the stations to help passengers maintain social distance once the services start.
The yellow lines are drawn on the floor covering all public access areas, including foot overbridges, stairs, platforms, booking offices and concourse areas.
Similar markings will be done at the Chennai Central Station, Madurai, Tiruchy, Coimbatore and few other stations. Maintaining social distance among passengers may pose a huge challenge to the authorities given that the railways is reeling under shortage of security staff.
“We need to maintain the ratio of security personnel to passenger footfall at 1:10 to maintain social distance at busy stations. More steps will be taken to observe social distance on trains,” he said.
The trains were operated last on March 21 and the Indian Railways is yet to decide the date for commencing the operations after the end of the lockdown.
Ticket booking has also been suspended till May 3. It is learnt that the railway may begin operation of services between stations based on requests from the State governments for ferrying patients, the elderly and a few others.
“There is no official word as yet. But, trains may be operated with only reserved coaches of non-AC classes. Passengers may be asked to report to the station much earlier. We are awaiting for a detailed order,” the officer said, adding that a decision on resuming suburban trains in Chennai may be taken a little later.
“The railways is planning to conduct a trial run in the Mumbai suburban section. Based on the run, a decision on resuming suburban trains in Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad will be taken,” he added.