Metro trains have resumed in select cities of the country today, more than five months after they were stopped, with protective measures against the coronavirus. Only asymptomatic people are allowed to board trains and stations at containment zones will stay shut. The passengers have been asked to download the Aarogya Setu app on their smartphones and will undergo thermal checks at stations.
Based on central guidelines, the metro authorities of Delhi, Noida, Chennai, Kochi, Bengaluru, Mumbai Line-1, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Maha Metro (Nagpur), Kolkata, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have prepared their standard operating procedures. Maharashtra will not be resuming metro operation this month.
Under the guidelines, the authorities have decided to discourage cash transactions and tokens. The frequency of trains will be regulated to avoid crowding at stations and in trains.
The Delhi metro, which has the most extensive network, started with its service on the Yellow Line, which runs from Samaypur Badli in North Delhi to the HUDA City Centre in Haryana's Gurugram, which is adjacent to the national capital. The next five days will see a staggered resumption of service in other lines.
About 7,500 passengers "availed the services between 7 AM and 11 AM". the DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) said in a statement. "DMRC got complete cooperation from its commuters who availed the services for the first time in 169 days with all new norms of Metro travel in place owing to the ongoing pandemic. DMRC will also take all possible measures to ensure that services are smooth in the evening four hours (from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM) as well (sic)," it added.
"I am happy that Delhi Metro services resume today. Metro has made good arrangements. We should not be careless in taking precautions," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted this morning in Hindi.
Around 1,000 extra staff have been deployed across the network to assist passengers. The Delhi Metro authorities on Sunday advised passengers to earmark extra time for travel as the carrying capacity of each train will be "drastically reduced to around 20 per cent of the pre-lockdown period due to social distancing norms".
Passengers have also been advised to "talk less" in view of the highly infectious virus.
"Try to stagger travel timings for office/home/other works to the extent possible so that the carrying capacity offered with new norms can be reasonably utilised by creating a travel pattern in which people are not rushing to the station in morning or peak hours only. Rather, they are coming equitably at all hours of the operational timings of the Metro services to 'break the peak'- a requirement of the present times," the Delhi Metro authorities said in a statement on Sunday.
The Delhi Metro has also advised people to travel light and avoid carrying metallic items for a faster frisking at entry points. "Keep only pocket size hand sanitizers, if any, during the travel. Hand sanitizers will not be permitted beyond 30 ml quantity from the safety point of view," the Metro Rail authorities said in the statement.
The opening of metro lines comes amid a surge in the daily tally of coronavirus cases. With 90,000-plus cases in the last 24 hours, India is set to surpass Brazil and come second in the list of nations hit worst by coronavirus. The total number of cases has crossed 41 lakh, 70,000 patients have died from the highly infectious disease.