The use of masks and smart cards has been made mandatory as the Delhi Metro resumes services next month after a five-month gap. The new guidelines issued by the Delhi government today listed severe restrictions that included a ban on tokens for the train ride and limiting the number of passengers in each coach. The authorities, however, have not named a figure for this yet. The air conditioning system will also be “renovated” to ensure circulation of fresh air inside coaches, said Delhi Transport minister Kailash Gahlot.
“We will renovate the air conditioning system in such a way that ensures that maximum fresh air comes in. We are yet to take a decision about what should be the optimum temperature inside the metro trains,” the minister told NDTV.
The minister also said the trains will not stop at all metro stations and there are plans to open stations in phases. All the safety rules will be strictly observed at stations, including social distancing and thermal checking. Hand sanitiser will also be provided.
“The token system will be completely shut because it can increase the spread (of coronavirus). Moreover, it won’t be possible to sanitise a token every time. People will use smart cards or other recharge mediums to travel,” Mr Gahlot said.
“All stations will not be opened. Those in containment zones will remain shut. Other than those, there are more stations which will remain shut, the list for the same will be prepared and people will be informed about it,” he added.
On Saturday, the Centre had announced guidelines for the fourth phase of unlocking, which included resumption of metro services from September 7 and public gatherings in a limited fashion.
The announcement came shortly before the country logged more than 78,000 cases — the highest single-day spike anywhere in the world — which pushed the total to more than 35 lakh cases.
“I am very happy that after a very long time, people are getting relief as they will be able to travel by metro,” Mr Gahlot said. “Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has repeatedly appealed that to bring the economy back on track, people should start going to their work and business and for this Delhi metro plays an important role,” he added.
Last week, Mr Kejriwal had requested the Centre to allow metro services to begin in the national capital as a special case if need be.
“I have requested the Centre that Delhi should be treated differently,” Mr Kejriwal had said. “If they do not want to run Metro trains in other cities, let it be so. But, in Delhi, Metro train services should be started in a phased manner, on a trial basis,” he added, contending that the coronavirus situation is improving in the city.
Cash-strapped Delhi has been looking at ways to bring in revenue since the second phase of lockdown.
Delhi is “ready to live with coronavirus” and it was time to reopen the city, he had said in May, pointing out that in place of the Rs 3,500-crore revenue every April, the city had made only Rs 300 crore.
Over the last 24 hours, Delhi recorded more than 2,000 fresh cases of coronavirus, the highest in August.