Metro services back on track with strict COVID-19 precautions; deserted platforms, cashless payment glitches in Delhi
However, metros remained shut in containment zones according to the Union home ministry's guidelines. The metro also remained shut in Mumbai, which is one of the cities most affected by the pandemic.
Five months after being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, metro services resumed across the country in a graded manner with strict COVID-19 precautions, including social distancing and masks and face shields for passengers.
In accordance with the Union home ministry's 'Unlock 4' guidelines, metros in containment zones remained shut.
The metro in Mumbai, one of the cities most affected by the pandemic, also remained closed.
Union minister Hadeep Singh Puri had announced the resumption of metro services with multiple routes from 7 September.
Metro stations in the National Capital wore a deserted look. Platforms and key hub stations, including Rajiv Chowk, were empty while eateries remained closed and the ambiance was far removed from the usual hustle and bustle.
Station employees frequently sanitised areas of the metro station and ensured social distancing norms, PTI reported
Around 9 am, the usually busy entry gate at Rajiv Chowk metro station was deserted with officials in masks and face shields ready with sanitisers to ensure a safe ride for passengers.
After the entry gate, there was a second layer of sanitisation that included thermal screening of passengers as well as their luggage. Only two gates were open at the Kashmere Gate metro station.
Personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) were also engaged in contactless frisking at Delhi Metro stations, PTI reported.
Trains stopped at each station for extra time so that the passengers can easily board or de-board the metro without making contact with fellow commuters.
However, a number of people faced problems buying new smart cards or getting them recharged through cashless modes due to network issues.
At many stations, including Central Secretariat, Chawri Bazar, and Chandni Chowk, passengers said there were technical glitches while making online payments.
— Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (@OfficialDMRC) September 7, 2020
Such issues were being reported mostly from underground metro stations, PTI said.
"I waited for about 10 to 15 minutes before I could successfully make the payment. Had it been a normal day, it would have led to chaos," Parvez Ahmed, who was travelling from Saket to Azadpur, was quoted as saying by PTI.
Metro Rail services also resumed in Kerala's Kochi on Monday. Trains between Thykoodam and Aluva resumed at 7 am, adhering to COVID-19 protocols.
Additionally, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the newly finished Thykoodam-Pettah stretch of the Kochi Metro. The inauguration of the Thykoodam-Aluva stretch marked the completion of the first phase of the urban transport mobility in the coastal city at a cost of Rs 6,218 crore.
Union Minister for Civil Aviation and Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri presided over the function through video conferencing.
The Indian Express reported that the trains of the Kochi Metro were scheduled to operate every 20 minutes. The last train from either end of the line was set to depart at 8 pm, as per the report.
Trains will be stopped for 20 seconds at every station with the aim to allow proper ventilation and at "terminating stations, trains will be stopped for a minimum of five minutes and doors kept open," the report added.
The Purple Line of the Bengaluru Metro was resumed on Monday, with trains running from the Byappanahalli station towards the Mysuru Road area at 8 am.
"The six-coach train from Byappanahalli had 12 passengers, whereas 15 to 16 passengers boarded the train at the Nayandahalli station on Mysuru Road," a BMRCL official was quoted as saying by PTI. The official said people appeared to be very cautious.
Services on the Metro Green Line from Yelachenahalli to Nagasandra will resume from Wednesday.
These trains will operate only for six hours only during peak hours from 8 am to 11 am and 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm till 10 September.
From 11 September onwards, the trains will ply on both the lines from 7 am to 9 pm.
"The number of commuters allowed in each train is limited to 400 passengers to ensure social distancing norms," the BMRCL said.
The dwell time on each station will be 60 seconds so that passengers can maintain social distancing while boarding and deboarding. At the Kempe Gowda interchange station, the dwell time will be 75 seconds, the BMRCL said.
The BMRCL said it will not open gates in those stations which are located in the containment zones. In Bengaluru too, commuters will have to use smart cards as the BMRCL has refused to sell tokens.
Hyderabad Metro Rail services resumed operations on the Miyapur-LB Nagar route on Monday.
Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) and L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited authorities said metro train services between Corridor 1 (Miyapur to LB Nagar) have started, while metro operations on other routes will be resumed in phases.
"We are happy that we were permitted to resume the metro rail services. We are taking all precautions and are strictly following the COVID-19 guidelines to prevent spreading of the virus in metro travel," HMRL managing director NVS Reddy said.
Services are being operated from 7 am to noon and 4 pm to 9 pm. Wearing of a face mask is mandatory for all passengers and staff, officials said.
The HMRL has made arrangements for masks on payment basis to people arriving without mask. Suitable penalty as per regulation shall be imposed for any violation, the officials said.
Smart Card and Mobile QR tickets with cashless/online transactions were encouraged for the safety of passengers.
At metro stations in Uttar Pradesh's Noida, commuters were thoroughly screened for face cover and body temperature at the entry of stations on the Noida-Greater Noida stretch, PTI reported.
"The services resumed at 7 am on Monday. The commuters were thoroughly screened at the entry of stations for face masks, body temperatures, among others, as per government guidelines," a spokesperson of the Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) said.
According to NMRC rules, people with a body temperature above 37.7 degrees Celsius and without a 'green status' on the Aarogya Setu mobile app would not be allowed entry.
Meanwhile, metro officials in Lucknow used ultraviolet (UV) technology for the sanitisation of metro tokens.
The services started at 6 am at all 16 stations with a thin crowd but the number of passengers increased later in the day, Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation PRO Panchanan Mishra told PTI.
The Lucknow Metro is the first metro service in the country to use the UV technology. The authorities have laid "special emphasis on contactless travel, sanitisation, social distancing, hygiene and cleanliness", PTI reported.
With inputs from PTI
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