Talk less, avoid commuting unnecessarily and travel light — as Delhi Metro resumes operations in the capital after 169 days on Monday amid the Covid pandemic, authorities have asked commuters to follow guidelines to help stop the virus spread.
Services will start in a staggered manner, with the Yellow Line (Samyapur Badli in Delhi-HUDA City Centre in Gurgaon) and the Rapid Metro in Gurgaon the first to be made operational. Remaining lines will restart gradually by September 12.
Wearing masks and ensuring social distancing will be mandatory for all. Cash transactions will not be undertaken, which means only smart cards can be used. Officials said 70% of commuters used smart cards before operations were suspended in March. Trains will operate in four-hour slots — between 7 am and 11 am and 4 pm and 8 pm — in the first stage.
Metro authorities have urged people to “avoid unnecessary travel as far as possible, “talk less during travel in the Metro to prevent the possibility of short-range aerosol transmission” and “travel with minimum luggage”.
“Avoid carrying metallic items for faster frisking… Keep only pocket-sized hand sanitisers… Hand sanitisers will not be permitted beyond 30 ml from safety point of view,” the DMRC said in a statement. It said 57 trains would perform around 462 trips.
Measures such as automated thermal screening, modified hand-held metal detectors and doorframe detectors, auto sanitiser dispensers and lift-calling system driven by a foot pedal have been put in place already in several stations, along with changes in the ventilation system inside coaches to allow in more air from outside.
Automated sanitiser dispensers have been installed at 45 stations. Lift-pedals will be available at 16 Metro stations, including Rajiv Chowk, Patel Chowk and Vishwavidyalaya. At other stations, auto-sanitiser dispensers will be available, but thermal screening will be done manually using a thermal gun, officials said.
Commuters will sit on alternate seats, and must maintain social distancing while standing too. Most entry and exit gates will remain closed and information about each gate can be accessed on the Delhi Metro website, http://www.delhimetrorail.com.
To prevent crowding, short loops might be run to cater to a certain section as the situation arises, DMRC said. Stops at stations will also be 10-20 seconds longer to avoid crowding. Stations in containment zones will not be operational.
Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot also visited Rajiv Chowk station Sunday to assess preparedness. “I’m happy to note that Rajiv Chowk, despite being one of the busiest stations, has ensured all precautions are in place as per the SOP. We are also deploying civil defence volunteers for crowd management, inside and outside stations,” he said.