Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday said Metro train services will resume in a graded manner from September 7 across the country, except in Maharashtra, and passengers will have to follow preventive measures against COVID-19 such as maintaining social distancing and wearing face mask.
Addressing an online media briefing, the Union housing and urban affairs minister said that all Metro lines will become operational from September 12.
An official in the ministry said that Metro trains will not stop at stations where passengers are found not maintaining social distancing.
The minister, however, said that if the government finds that resumption of Metro services does not result in social distancing or leads to crowding and trains getting congested, it might have no option but to review the decision.
The minister said that Metro stations in COVID-19 containment zones will remain closed when services resume from September 7.
Puri said that wearing face mask will be mandatory during travel on Metro trains and added that masks will be provided to passengers on payment basis at stations.
“Only asymptomatic persons will be allowed to travel after thermal screening at entry into stations. Symptomatic persons will be advised to go to nearby COVID Care Centre or hospital for testing or medical attention,” Puri said.
The central government said that Delhi, Noida, Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore, Mumbai Line-1, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Maha Metro (Nagpur), Kolkata, Gujarat and UP Metro (Lucknow) have prepared their respective SOPs.
“The Maharashtra government has decided not to resume operation of Metro during September. Hence, Mumbai Line-1 and Maha Metro operations shall commence from October, 2020 or as state government may decide further,” it stated.
Frequency of trains will be regulated to avoid passenger crowding at stations and in trains, he said, adding that in order to ensure social distancing, suitable markings at stations and inside trains to be done.
Wearing of face mask will be mandatory for all passengers and staff, he said.
An official said that if passengers are not following anti-COVID-19 measures, Metro rail corporations may have an option of “naming and shaming” them through social media.
Use of Aarogya Setu app will be encouraged, he said, adding that provision of sanitiser will be made at entry into the stations for use by passengers.
The ministry said that sanitisation of all areas having human interface like equipment, train, working area, lift, escalators, handrail, AFC gate and toilets among others needs to be done at regular intervals.
Ministry secretary Durga Shanker Mishra said that after one week, the government will review the situation.
Metro services were suspended in late March when the government announced a nationwide lockdown to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Use of smart card and cashless or online transactions will be encouraged. Tokens and paper slips of ticket will only be used with proper sanitisation.
The ministry said that adequate dwell time at stations will be provided to enable smooth boarding and deboarding ensuring social distancing, adding that Metro rail corporations may also resort to skipping of stations to ensure proper social distancing.
Puri said that passengers will be advised to travel with minimum luggage and avoid carrying metallic items for easy and quick scanning.
Operation of Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system in accordance with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) & Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) guidelines will be ensured
Intake of fresh air in air-conditioning system will be increased to the extent possible.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief Mangu Singh said the Yellow Line from Samaypur Badli to Huda City Centre will be operational from September 7 and services on Airport Express Line will resume from September 12.
He said that in the first stage, Delhi Metro services will operate in two shifts — 7-11 am and 4-8 pm.
In the second stage, trains will be available from 7 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm, he said, adding that normal operations will resume from September 12.
In the national capital, Metro services have been suspended since March 22.