After nearly six months, Kolkata Metro yesterday (Sunday, 13th September 2020) hit the tracks with special services for NEET examinees and their guardians. NEET aspirants, many accompanied by their guardians, queued up in front of metro stations to reach their examination centres well before 10 am when the first trains started from both ends of the North-South line, Noapara and Kavi Subhash.
The special services continued till 7 pm at intervals of 15 minutes.
Regular passenger services on the North-South and the East-West lines of Kolkata Metro will start from today with social distancing measures and other safety protocols in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
For the 2,000-odd Metro Railway personnel, resumption of services is their biggest professional challenge ever. “Ensuring seamless operations following the nitty-gritty of social distancing and other Covid-19 protocols, and keeping ourselves and the public safe, will undoubtedly be the most challenging phase of our lives,” said a motorman with two decades of experience.
“Frankly, we were fervently hoping services would start in September because it was so strange — getting paid without sweating it out. We welcome the authorities’ decision of service resumption but we are also scared. So many of us will be dealing directly with the public. We just hope everyone emerges unscathed in these trying times.” A station supervisor said.
A ticket counter staff said, “It’s a relief to be back in action. We are happy that the state government and the Metro authorities came up with this novel way of regulating crowd, by making e-passes mandatory for accessing stations. That’s the most crucial safety measure.”
Tapas Mukherjee, general secretary, Metro Railway Workers’ Congress (MRWC), added, “Safety is the biggest worry now. Precautions must be followed to the hilt, both by Metro staff members and by the commuters. Everyone must behave responsibly and adhere to rules. Especially vulnerable are those who will be in close contact with the public. This is an unprecedented circumstance for all of us.”
Some of the Metro personnel are unnerved by the fact that four staff members working in the East-West section have contacted Covid. One of them is still in the hospital. “Our jobs are a part of our lives, but some of us are the only bread-earners for our families. We just pray and hope that we can run the service and no one is adversely affected,” a motorman said.
Motormen said they will have to be extra alert because the stoppage time has been increased from 20 seconds to 30 seconds. One of them, with 24 years of work experience, said, “I am sure everyone will adapt to the new situation because we are all professionals and want to do a good job at the end of the day. The fear will be forgotten the moment we start executing our duties. Of course, with the Covid protocols and sanitization norms in place, our responsibilities have increased manifold.”