Metro rail services, suspended for over five months now due to Covid-19, may resume from September 1, with the home ministry contemplating excluding these from the list of prohibited activities under Unlock 4. States will, however, take the final call on reopening the rapid transport networks depending on the coronavirus situation there.
The resumption of Metro services in Delhi had been sought by the Arvind Kejriwal government prior to the release of Unlock 3 guidelines, citing the improved Covid-19 situation in the city. However, even though both DMRC and CISF, which handles security at metro stations, were told by the home ministry at the beginning of this month to be prepared for restart of Metro, no decision in this regard was announced.
A senior CISF functionary said its precautionary drill for safe re-opening of Metro services is in place and only a direction from the home ministry is needed to operationalise the same. The announcement would spell relief for both the commuters as well as DMRC that has been suffering huge losses due to prolonged Metro shutdown.
In all likelihood, Metro services will be resumed in phased manner and require strict adherence to social distancing norms both in the coaches as well as at the stations.
However, No decision has been taken on the matter yet, an official added. In the ‘Unlock 4’ guidelines, the central government will only mention about prohibited activities and the rest can resume. The state governments will take a final call on additional activities that should continue to remain prohibited during the ‘Unlock 4’, the official said.
The Unlock 4 guidelines is expected to be issued later this week.
SOP for Metro Operation to Include Longer Halts & Thermal Cameras at Stations
Metro Rail services, which is likely to resume from next month, would be expanded in a calibrated manner and the average stoppage time at stations would be longer for passengers to board and de-board the trains safely, sources said.
They added the number of passengers including those occupying seats would be less in these trains and proper social distancing would be ensured inside the coaches. The Metro Rail corporation would be required to preferably go for contactless ticketing to avoid spreading of Coronavirus. Some of them may go for automated ticket vending systems in the form of a paper slip.
“The spots have been earmarked for people to stand in the platform and the seats and space they can occupy inside each coach. There would also be a provision for fresh air points in coaches. Each Metro Rail corporation will comply with the SOP that would be issued in the next few days,” said a source.
The inside temperature in metro coaches would be fixed at 26 degree. Managing director of Kochi Metro and additional chief secretary in Kerala, Alkesh Sharma said, “We have been ready for a long time. We have put automatic thermal cameras to read the body temperature of all passengers. We will run more trains in frequency to meet the requirement. Intense disinfection of trains will be carried out everyday.”
Sources said the Metro Rail corporations would deploy more security personnel to maintain social distancing at stations, platforms and even inside the trains. Officials said greater clarity will be out once the home ministry releases the SOP. Earlier after getting the SOPs made by some of the Metro rail entities, the housing and urban affairs ministry had prepared a model SOP and had shared with each Metro Rail corporation.