Once lockdown is lifted, Chennai metro will ferry only 160 people in each commute so that passengers can maintain social distancing. While CMRL plans to operate 35 trains at a five-minute frequency if footfalls increase in accordance with social distancing norms, it may have to operate more trains at a lesser frequency if it is to cater to its daily average footfalls of 1.16 lakh.
This would mean 40 passengers can travel in a single train car, measuring 20m in length and 2.9 metres in breadth. Of the 40 commuters, six will be seated in the two six-seaters and four in the four two seaters. “This is the only way to maintain social distancing when we resume services after the lockdown. We will operate more trains and increase our frequency if footfall goes up,” said the official.
Every four-car train operated on the 45 km phase-1 corridors has the capacity of carrying 1,270 passengers on a single ride. CMRL has so far planned to operate trains on a 10-minute frequency during peak hours and at a 15-minute frequency during non-peak hours on both the corridors of phase-1.
About 60% of commuters take the metro during morning and evening peak hours for which CMRL operated 35 trains at a 5- minute frequency. With the top priority being social distancing during travel, CMRL may have to operate more trips at an increased frequency if footfall is back at its usual daily average once the lockdown is lifted.
At present, CMRL’s total fleet comprises 52 trains. “Our system is designed to operate at a three-minute frequency. But, we will need a fleet of 55 trains,” said an official. Of the 52 trains, CMRL procured 42 trains for its 45 km phase-1 lines and another 10 trains for the 9km line from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar, which was to be opened in June 2020. But, officials said the 10 new trains are yet to complete a series of trials before they are deployed on the mainline for daily operations.