Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) is all set to start regular operations once it gets the green light from the state government after the lockdown is lifted. Several measures have been planned which include use of warning stickers and markings on floors at stations and on seats inside trains, use of smart cards instead of tokens and contactless ticketing using bar codes.
Simple instructions like not to touch staircase railings and urging people to maintain physical distance while boarding lift are already put up on front doors of stations, which are at present locked.
Resuming operations is not much of a hassle for metro rail as they had already started implementing precautionary measures like use of hand sanitisers and awareness messages for commuters and others before the shutdown started. Since, the trains are not crowded, a minor tweaking of schedules will help ensure that too many people do not crowd a train during peak hours.
CMRL had been keeping the stations open during the lockdown period with 25% staff operating critical systems like communication, signals and trains. Trains are being operated twice a day to prevent systems and components from getting jammed.
Metro rail officials said operation of empty trains during lockdown ensure they are ready for regular operations at short notice. Floors on the concourse and platform levels have stickers to direct passengers to stand in a queue while maintaining a physical distance. Passengers walking in to stations will also be screened for body temperatures and will be given hand sanitizers.
In trains, they may allow only three passengers in big six-seater and one person on the two-seater. Overall, a four-car train which has a capacity to carry 1,270 passengers may ferry only 160 people as they maintain social distancing during the commute. 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. It has also planned to operate 35 trains at a five-minute frequency, if footfall increases.