Five days after the metro network resumed services, after almost five months on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite several advisories issued by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that masks have to be worn at all times throughout the journey and that passengers should talk less, so as to reduce the spread of the virus, it has been noticed that not many passengers were following the protocol laid down for metro travel.
Keeping this in mind, DMRC has now decided to deploy flying squad teams across all lines to carry out random checks inside the train for violations. It has also warned that in case people are found flouting norms, they can be penalised under Delhi Metro (O&M Act) and may also be handed over to police, if required.
“Our intention at this time, when metro services are yet to be made fully operational, is to advice and counsel them in adopting these norms with a positive attitude than merely going punitive,” said Anuj Dayal, Executive Director, Corporate Communications, DMRC.
It must be remembered that on September 2, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri while announcing that metro services would be resumed in a graded manner had said that passengers will have to follow preventive measures against COVID-19 such as maintaining social distancing and wearing face mask but emphasised that the focus all along would be on ‘review and caution’.
“The emphasis on all this has to be on review and caution. We are clear in our minds that this opening up in a graded and calibrated manner will need to be reviewed if we find that the resumption of operations is not resulting in social distancing, either at metro stations or there is crowding or trains are getting congested in a manner which should be avoided,” Puri had told reporters.
He had said that metro trains will not stop at stations where passengers are found not maintaining social distancing and that individuals who defy the social distancing norms or do not wear masks would be named and shamed.
Meanwhile, metro services will be restored to pre-COVID levels from September 12, officials said.
Managing Director of DMRC Mangu Singh has appealed to commuters to ‘break the peak’ in view of metro timings being restored from 6 am to 11 pm from September 12.
Normal timings, from 6 am to 11 pm, will become applicable from September 12 onward on all lines after the last line of Delhi Metro network (the Airport Express Line from New Delhi to Dwarka Sec-21) is made operational under Stage-III, the last stage under graded resumption plan of metro services.
On Sundays, starting September 20, train services will commence at 8 am. However, this Sunday i.e. September 13, services on these lines will commence at 6 am as per the existing schedule.
“This arrangement is being made to facilitate the candidates appearing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET 2020) Examination held by the National Testing Agency this Sunday,” DMRC said.
All lines of the Delhi Metro network, comprising 349 km and 253 metro stations, will be fully operational and restored to pre-COVID levels once again from September 12 onwards.
After a graded reopening of Delhi's public transport lifeline, the Delhi Metro on September 11 restarted services on the Magenta and Grey lines. The total ridership across nine metro lines stood at 1,28,886 until 7.30 pm on September 11.
On September 10, around 84,841 passengers boarded the metro as the DMRC's Red, Green, and Violet lines resumed services with the same schedule of four hours of passenger service each in the morning and evening, under Stage-I plan of resumption of services.
Nine lines of the Delhi Metro network are now open.
Since September 7, metro trains were being operated for four hours each in the morning and evening. All the lines pressed into service until September 11, 2020, under both stages I and II, will be operational for six hours each-- in the morning (from 7 am to 1 pm) and evening (4 pm to 10 pm)-- with broadly the same frequency prior to the lockdown.
The home ministry had issued guidelines allowing metro services in the country to resume operations in a graded manner, following which DMRC had said it would be done in three stages from September 7-12. DMRC had appealed to passengers to travel light and "talk less inside trains to prevent the possibility of short-range aerosol transmission."
Due to the pandemic and strict social distancing norms, the carrying capacity of a train has been drastically reduced to around 20 percent of the pre-lockdown period. Passengers have been advised to avoid unnecessary travel as far as possible.
Besides Delhi, metro networks also restarted operations on September 7 in a graded manner in Lucknow, Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, but remained closed in Mumbai, Nagpur, Kolkata and Jaipur.
Metro Railway services in Kolkata will resume on September 14 after remaining suspended for more than five months.
The Maharashtra government had on September 1 decided against the immediate resumption of metro and local train services. No decision has been taken yet on restarting metro services in Jaipur.