As Delhi Metro gets back on track after 5 months, here is what is different

Topics Delhi Metro | DMRC | Lockdown

The pre-boarding security check, meanwhile, is as intense as it was in the elusive pre-Covid days
At the outset, it appears as though one is about to enter a crime scene. So heavy is the police deployment. It is 8.30 in the morning at the Rohini Sector 18-19 Metro station. On an ordinary day, this would be rush hour and one would be racing with the crowd to board the train. But these aren’t ordinary times. And though the Delhi Metro service has resumed after 169 days today, with the aim to bring back some semblance of normalcy to life, the crowds are missing.

On Day 1, only the yellow line (between Samaypur Badli and HUDA City Centre) is operational. It is one of the busiest routes, on which fall the usually choc-a-bloc Vishwavidyalaya and Kashmere Gate. But inside the Rohini station, there are just a handful of passengers, each of whom is required to go through a temperature check before proceeding to a counter to get their bags sanitised. Only then are the bags allowed to pass through the scanning machine.

Tokens are not permitted for now. Only smart card holders are allowed to use the services, buying the cards or recharging them through cashless – and thereby contactless – modes.
Commuters travelling in a metro train after services resumed with curtailed operation of the Yellow Line and Rapid Metro, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

The pre-boarding security check, meanwhile, is as intense as it was in the elusive pre-Covid days. Only, now it is all contactless. Gone is the physical frisking by personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which is tasked with Delhi Metro security. Passengers are instead directed to a sanitiser booth and then frisked from a distance with a metal detector by a CISF personnel in a mask and face shield.

The usually packed coaches are eerily empty, with barely a dozen passengers in each coach – all of them safely masked, and some with gloves and face shields also on. Inside the train, every alternate seat is marked with stickers that read: “Don’t sit here. Maintain social distancing.” To ensure that these warnings aren’t flouted, security staff patrol the coaches, keeping an eye on passengers so that social distancing norms are adhered to at all times. Outside the coaches, at the stations, though, there is no such demarcation for passengers waiting for their Metro to arrive.

Meanwhile, those who came expecting respite from the muggy outdoors and hoping for a cool, comfortable Metro ride, would have been disappointed. The coaches are now warmer than usual. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has regulated the temperature to allow better air circulation amid reports that the virus spreads faster in enclosed air-conditioned spaces.

 

The average travel time, too, has increased by 20-25 minutes because of longer stoppages at the stations. On a normal day, it takes around 35 minutes to reach Rajiv Chowk from Rohini Sector 18-19 Metro station. Today, it took a little over an hour.

Like the other stations, the excessively busy Rajiv Chowk is also practically deserted. “We are on duty since 6 am. There are hardly any passengers, but we hope the numbers will increase in the days to come,” says Hemant Kumar Singh, who is part of the DMRC security. 

A security person conducts checking of a commuter at Rajiv Chowk station in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

The few who have come are relieved that service has resumed. Among them is Sahil Singh, 24, who works for an event management firm in Gurugram and lives in Rohini in north Delhi. “My work does not allow me to function from home,” he says. “Besides, we faced salary cuts when the lockdown began and last month, we weren’t paid at all. We have to go out and get business, and cabs are very expensive.

Madhuri Singh, 23, who works in Connaught Place and has been travelling in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus through this period, agrees. “I used to change three buses from my house to reach my office. It would take me over two hours. And by the time I got back home, I would be dead tired,” she says.

Like Singh, 70-year old Narendra Kukreja is also thankful that he no longer has to bus it between his home in Narela in outer Delhi and the Karkardooma Courts Complex, where he is a lawyer.

Commuters deboarding a metro train at HUDA City Centre station. Photo: PTI

There are also those who’ve been asked to report back to work since the Metro is now up and running. “I was working from home all this while, but now our office has asked us to rejoin,” says Kavita Goyal, who works with a private firm in Connaught Place.

DMRC had halted services on March 22, two days before the nationwide lockdown was announced. Back then, its daily average ridership was 6 million. Today, according to official figures, in the first four hours of the service being resumed, 7,500 passengers travelled by the Delhi Metro.
Station by station

Till September 10: services from 7 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 8 pm.
Stage-II, from September 11: services from 7 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 10 pm.
September 12 onwards: services throughout the day (6 am to 11 pm).
Till September 10: Only Line-2 (Yellow Line) operational, from Samaypur Badli to HUDA City Centre including Rapid Metro, Gurugram
September 9: Line-3/4 (Blue Line) from Dwarka Sec-21 to Noida Electronic City/Vaishali & Line-7 (Pink Line) from Majlis Park to Shiv Vihar
September 10: Line-1 (Red Line) from Rithala to Shaheed Sthal New Bus Adda, Line-5 (Green Line) from Kirti Nagar/Inderlok to Brig. Hoshiar Singh (Bahadurgarh) & Line-6 (Violet Line) from Kashmere Gate to Raja Nahar Singh (Ballabhgarh)
September 11: Lines, Line-8 (Magenta Line) from Janakpuri West to Botanical Garden & Line-9 (Grey Line) from Dwarka to Najafgarh will be also made operational
September 12: In addition to stage-1 & 2 Lines, Airport Express Line from New Delhi to Dwarka Sec-21 will also be operational


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