The Centre has written to Metro operators across the country suggesting that QR code-based tickets be linked with the Aarogya Setu app to ensure only “safe passengers” gain entry into stations once restrictions are lifted. Metro operators have also been directed to make the app “mandatory” for all passengers, according to the guidelines shared by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
“Wearing of face mask/cover shall be mandatory for all commuters during entry into the stations/trains and during the entire journey. Use of the Aarogya Setu app will be mandatory for passengers to enter the stations. Some Metros are trying to link QR code tickets with the Aarogya Setu app so that only safe passengers as per Aarogya Setu app are issued QR code tickets. Metros using QR code may adopt this if technically feasible,” state the guidelines. In Delhi, entry gates on the Airport Express Line are enabled to read QR code tickets, along with a few automatic fare collection gates on Line 6, which passes through Jama Masjid, Delhi Gate and Red Fort.
Fare collection gates of Metro systems in Noida, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kochi, among others, are also equipped to read QR code tickets.
In case of Delhi Metro’s Airport Express Line, QR code tickets can be booked through an app. After the payment is made, the app displays the QR code. This system obviates the need to use smart cards or tokens.
The guidelines add that use of tokens is to be discouraged since they can be “carriers of the virus”. “It is difficult to sanitise the delicate electronic items. However, Metros may decide based on local conditions,” it states.
The SOP underlines that “only asymptomatic passengers shall be allowed to enter stations”. “Symptomatic passengers or those having high temperature shall not be allowed to use Metro and after recording his/her contact number, name and address, he/she shall be directed to report to the nearest medical centre. The details of such persons shall be communicated to the local administration,” it says.
Agencies in charge of security of these networks — the CISF in Delhi Metro’s case — will be provided thermal screening devices. For proper screening, the Centre has suggested that only one or two station gates be kept open.
Asked if non-smartphone users can use Metro services, DMRC chief spokesman Anuj Dayal said: “The decision to resume Metro rail services in Delhi-NCR will be taken by the government after which the detailed protocol will be shared with the media and public.”
“At present, the DMRC is taking up the necessary cleaning mechanisms inside the trains and indoor areas of stations such as entrance lobbies, corridors, staircases, escalators, elevators, security areas, etc. Other necessary logistical arrangements such as provision for hand sanitisation, thermal screening at stations and installation of social distancing-related signages are also being handled in the interim,” Dayal said.
Sources said Delhi Metro services are likely to be initially available between 6 am and 10 pm, with frequency of 10-15 minutes. The services will be reviewed based on ridership and the availability of staff, who could be residents of containment zones.
The trains will stop for up to 30 seconds more than usual at stations to ensure social distancing among passengers boarding or alighting. While alternate seats will have to be left vacant, those standing will be asked to maintain a gap of at least 1 metre.
“Trains should not stop at stations falling in containment zones and such stations should not be opened to the public. Some of the stations may be skipped if sufficient passengers are not using them,” the SOP says, adding that social distancing will also be monitored through CCTV surveillance.
Operators have been directed to ensure cleanliness measures such as disinfecting stations every night, with “special attention” to public toilets. They have been asked to disinfect all human contact areas such as lift buttons and escalator handrails every four hours or more.
Intake of fresh air in the air-conditioning system of coaches will be increased to the extent possible. Temperatures will be maintained at 24-30 degrees Celsius depending on local climatic conditions. Train doors may be left open at terminal stations to let in fresh air.
The Centre has also directed Metros to provide strip or other markers on the floor of stations at intervals of 1 metre to help maintain social distancing. “Whenever excess passengers are observed in the concourse or platform area, entry of passengers at the gates may be restricted,” it said. The DMRC has already pasted such markers at its stations.
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