As the fourth phase of the lockdown nears completion, the Delhi Metro is all geared up to resume services in compliance with safety norms once the order comes from authorities.
Sources said on Tuesday that ground staff and others of different teams were briefed by their respective team leaders on preparedness and precautions to be taken by them, whenever the services are resumed.
The Delhi Metro has been closed since March 22 when the Janata Curfew was imposed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and subsequently the nation-wide lockdown.
The DMRC senior staffers have already been coming to office since the lockdown norms were eased a week back. Also, metro staff, from train operators to sanitation workers, have been sensitised about the safety norms.
From thermal scanners to test temperature of commuters to stickers on social distancing norms pasted on seats and platform floors, Delhi Metro has been preparing to handle commuters as per safety guidelines, anticipating resumption in services.
The preparations have to be done in advance, as once the government order comes, the system has to be ready. Domestic flight services resumed operations from Monday while the lockdown is in place till May 31.
The sources said arrangements are being made to install a hand sanitiser dispenser near the security doors, just before the frisking areas inside metro station premises.
On regular days, the average daily ridership of DMRC is over 26 lakh. One train coach has a capacity to accommodate about 300 passengers. With social distancing norms, this number will reduce drastically.
Meanwhile, the sources indicated that quantum of fine for spitting in DMRC premises may be hiked as per the disaster act guidelines after services resume in view of the coronavirus pandemic. Wearing masks all time while using the metro services shall be compulsory, they said.
Currently, spitting in metro premises is an offence under the Delhi Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act 2002, and the violation attracts a penalty of Rs 200.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on April 15 had issued fresh directives for COVID-19 management, asking civic bodies to make spitting “punishable with a fine” under Section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Following this, all civic bodies in Delhi had ordered to impose a fine of Rs 1,000 for spitting in public.
Delhi Metro premises are governed by the Delhi Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002. Delhi Metro authorities have been working on protocols in the past few weeks to ensure social distancing norms are in place whenever the commuters return.
Stickers on social distancing norms have been pasted at regular intervals on seats inside train coaches. Red lines have been drawn at regular intervals next to AFC gates and security checking gates, just before commuters enter near the platform areas.
On platform floors, large stickers bearing ‘Ensure Social Distancing’ message have been pasted at regular intervals, with a white circle bordered by an outer red circle, to alert commuters.
While there are no clear indications as to when the services might be resumed, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot recently said the Delhi government is ready to resume the public transport services in the city with safety precautions in place for COVID-19 if the Centre allows it. Thermal scanners will be used to screen commuters before they proceed further.
The DMRC authorities, however, remain tight-lipped on whether keeping Aarogya Setu app will be mandatory for traveling in metro whenever the services are resumed.