Updated: July 27, 2021 10:07:57 pm
Commuters faced long queues outside major Metro stations Monday, despite the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) running all trains at full seating capacity.
At Rajiv Chowk Metro station, commuters said they had been waiting in line for up to an hour to enter the station. Some who work in establishments in the area and others who were returning home after a stroll around Connaught Place said they had expected all gates to be open since trains were running with maximum permissible seating on Monday. People are not allowed to stand inside the coaches, though a few did resort to it.
But around 6 pm, just gate number 7 was open for entry, leaving a winding queue that extended almost entirely around the front section of Block A of Connaught Place.
Virender Kumar (48), who works with a waterproofing company nearby, said standing in line for over an hour has become a painful, daily affair ever since Covid-related restrictions were introduced when services resumed post-lockdown.
The Vaishali resident travels with two masons who work with him and are headed to Nangloi. “When we are attempting to save as much money as we can, traveling to another Metro station to board the train from there is not an option,” he said.
Ankit Kumar, an employee at the New Delhi Municipal Council office who was returning home, said the wait was an arduous one, but was necessary to prevent the trains from getting overcrowded.
Only around 10 people were being allowed inside the station at one time. DMRC sources said the agency has not been permitted to open all gates yet since that would lead to crowding inside. Restricting entry to the station itself was the only way to ensure that the seating capacity of the coaches — 50 people at one time — was not breached, they added.
Long lines were also seen outside other stations, including the Lok Kalyan Marg station.
On some trains, commuters appeared confused about whether all seats were to be occupied or not. Staff was present at stations to sanitise hands and bags and check temperature.
While some stations along the Magenta and Yellow lines appeared deserted even at peak hours in the evening, Rajiv Chowk remained busy from late afternoon onwards.
Meanwhile, mild tremors at 6.42 am brought trains to a halt. Trains were running on cautionary speed and stationed at the next platform, as per the DMRC.
In a statement in the evening, the DMRC said many people are still not aware that the Metro is offering only 1/5th or 20% of its passenger capacity and not 100%. Some people are still under the impression that alternate seats are not to be occupied and preferred to stand during travel, the statement said. DMRC said it will strengthen its regulated entry to avoid such a situation arising during peak hours. Regular flying squads will also be deployed.
Around 17.5 lakh passenger journeys were recorded till 8 pm on Monday, according to data from DMRC. This is an increase from an average of 16 lakh passenger journeys on Mondays since the Metro resumed services on June 7.
Nine flying squads, comprising CISF personnel and DMRC officials, were deployed on Monday to monitor adherence to Covid-related guidelines like wearing masks and social distancing. They counsel passengers to follow protocol and can impose a fine of Rs 200 for a violation.
As many as 432 passengers were made to deboard and 159 were penalised by flying squads on Monday, going by figures available till 8 pm.
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