Limiting number of people in lifts and longer halting time for trains at stations to allow commuters to board and alight with social distancing norms, are among the measures the Delhi Metro will take to ensure safer travel for its passengers, whenever services resume.
Metro rail services were closed on March 22 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had last week said that it will be prepared to resume operations whenever directed by the government.
"We are still awaiting nod for resumption of services. However, all safety protocols have been worked out and some more being worked out so as to ensure maximum safety for passengers whenever services are ordered to be resumed," a source said.
Inside metro premises like stations and train coaches, wearing of masks will be mandatory and social distancing norms will be followed as per government guidelines, and people not wearing masks will not be allowed to enter metro premises, officials said.
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"Trains will halt for longer duration than on regular days to allow commuters to board coaches and alight from it while maintaining physical distance. Also, number of persons permissible to board a lift will be reduced in view of social distancing, and the exact number is still being worked out," the source told PTI.
One train coach can accommodate about 50 passengers on seats and a total of nearly 300 riders in the entire compartment, including standing commuters. With social distancing norms, this number will reduce drastically.
From new smart cards with auto top-up facility to stickers on social distancing norms pasted on seats and platform floors, Delhi Metro is all set to handle commuters in adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines, whenever the services are ordered to be resumed, officials had earlier said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently said that metro train services in Delhi should be resumed on a trial basis as the COVID-19 situation is improving in the city, and hoped that the Centre would soon take a decision on it.
However, the number of fresh cases and active cases have risen in the last several days.
Delhi recorded 1,808 fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the tally in the city to over 1.69 lakh, while the death toll from the disease rose to 4,389, authorities said.
This was the second successive day when over 1,800 new cases have been reported in August.
On Thursday, 22 deaths were reported and the daily case count was 1,840, the highest single-day spike in August till now.
Experts have attributed the rise in cases in the last week or so to reopening of the economy and many people not following safety protocols and social distancing norms in public.
Sources also said, a meeting was held by metro officials on Thursday with security officials, including from the CISF.
Before Delhi Metro services were closed in March, a Rs 200 fine was mandated for spitting inside metro properties. However, it is likely be hiked multiple times, sources had earlier indicated.
The economy has slowly opened up in a phase-wise manner in the unlock period since June, but the DMRC has not received a nod from the Centre to resume operations.
"The DMRC shall be prepared to commence operations whenever directed by the government. All necessary guidelines in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 shall be implemented, and all efforts shall be made to make travel safe for our valued commuters," Anuj Dayal, Executive Director, DMRC was quoted as saying in a statement earlier.
According to sources, the Delhi Metro has suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1,300 cr since the closure of services since late March due to the COVID-19 situation. On regular days, the average daily ridership of DMRC is over 26 lakh.
Awaiting a nod to resume operations, the DMRC meanwhile, has been training its staff on compliance of COVID-19 safety norms and also on ways to make travel safer for commuters.
Thermal scanners will take temperature of commuters while entering and hand sanitiser will kept for them too. Delhi Metro authorities have been working on protocols to ensure social distancing norms are in place whenever the commuters return.
Seeking to promote greater e-transaction for commuters to avoid physical contact as such, the Delhi Metro on August 19 had announced a new facility that will enable riders to get their smart cards auto-topped up with money at AFC gates.
The old smart card issued by the DMRC can also be upgraded to avail this facility, they said.
"This feature comes handy at these times wherein, commuters are going to follow a new travel protocol, whenever metro services resume, which calls for social distancing and contactless services due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," a senior official said.
Among other measures, red lines have been drawn at regular intervals next to AFC gates and security checking gates, just before commuters enter near the platform area.
On platform floors, large stickers bearing 'Ensure Social Distancing' message have been pasted at regular intervals, with a while circle bordered by an outer red circle, to alert commuters.
DMRC authorities, however, remain tight-lipped on whether keeping Aarogya Setu app will be mandatory for traveling in metro whenever the services are resumed.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.