The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is in the process of finalising protocols for passenger movement at its stations and inside its trains. The protocols are being drawn up with focus on social distancing — essential to contain the spread of Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) — once the Centre gives its nod for public transport to operate in the fourth phase of the lockdown, which will begin Monday.

Among other norms, the new rules being drawn up will likely include complete cashless transactions at ticketing counters, earmarking designated spots for passengers to stand while waiting for trains or at ticketing counters, use of face masks and Aarogya Setu mobile application and separate entry and exit points to the station premises, said an official.

These measures, which are under consideration and yet to be finalised, are based on guidelines provided by the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs (HUA) to all metro corporations in the country for drafting standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Once metro operations resume, a senior official said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) plans to do away with the token system and all transactions at ticketing counter will be completely cashless. “Chances of the spread of the infection increases while using tokens,” added the official.

The Delhi Metro has already started putting markers on station floors and platforms to earmark space for passengers while waiting at stations or counters. It has also put up stickers on seats inside the trains, with alternate seats having to be left vacant.

“DMRC is taking up the necessary cleaning inside the trains and indoor areas of stations such as entrance lobbies, corridors, staircases, escalators, elevators, and the security area. Other necessary logistical arrangements, such as provision of hand sanitisation/thermal screening at stations and installation of social distancing related signages are also being put in place,” said Anuj Dayal, executive director, DMRC.

The Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) recently drafted guidelines, which were shared with all state governments and transport agencies, for public transport to operate while ensuring social distancing norms.

Mukti Advani, principal scientist, transport planning at CSIR-CRRI, said, “Online ticketing system should be encouraged and at least 80% of tickets should be booked online. It is good the Delhi Metro is earmarking spots on platforms. Efforts have to be made to ensure there is no crowding outside the stations. We had also recommended that passengers sit on alternate seats.”

The number of passengers travelling per train will drop sharply due to measures proposed to ensure social distancing. Currently, close to 1,800 people travel on a six-coach train. With passengers allowed to sit on alternate seats, the passenger-carrying capacity of the trains is likely to drop to 300-500, said the Delhi Metro official.

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 public.”

News Source: Hindustan Times


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