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Smart Cards with Auto Top-up, Thermal Scanners & Warning Stickers: Delhi Metro Preps for New Normal

Picture for representation.

Picture for representation.

Delhi Metro services have remained suspended since March 22, the day the nationwide lockdown was first imposed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Sources say it has suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1,300 crore till now.

From new smart cards with auto top-up facility to stickers on social distancing norms pasted on seats and platform floors, the Delhi Metro is all set to handle commuters, in adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines, whenever its services are ordered to be resumed. Delhi Metro services have remained suspended since March 22, the day Janata Curfew was imposed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. According to sources, it has suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1,300 cr till now.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had on Sunday said it shall be prepared to resume operations whenever directed by the government. The statement from the urban transporter came on a day Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said metro train services in Delhi should be resumed on a trial basis as the COVID-19 situation was improving in the city, and hoped the Centre would soon decide on it.

The national capital recorded 1,061 fresh coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the tally in the city to over 1.62 lakh, while the death toll mounted to 4,313. After the lockdown period, the economy has been slowly opening up in a phased manner since June, but the DMRC has not yet received a nod from the Centre to resume operations.

"The DMRC shall be prepared to commence operations whenever directed by the government. All necessary guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19 shall be implemented, and all efforts shall be made to make travel safe for our valued commuters," Anuj Dayal, Executive Director, DMRC was quoted as saying in a statement. On regular days, the average daily ridership of DMRC is over 26 lakh.

The DMRC, meanwhile, has been training its staff on compliance of COVID-19 safety norms and also on ways to make travel safer for commuters. From thermal scanners to measure the 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, officials said.

Authorities have been working on protocols to ensure that social distancing norms are in place whenever commuters return. To promote greater e-transaction, the Delhi Metro on August 19 announced a new facility that will enable riders to get their smart cards auto-topped up at automatic fare collection (AFC) gates.

This new smart card is available for customers through the app 'Autope' which has been specially developed for this purpose. The old smart cards can also be upgraded to avail this facility, officials said. "This feature will come in handy during these times… which call for social distancing and contactless services," a senior official said.

Among other measures, red lines have been drawn at regular intervals next to AFC gates and security checking gates, just before commuters enter near platform areas. On platform floors, large stickers bearing 'Ensure Social Distancing' message with a white circle bordered by a red circle, have been pasted at regular intervals to alert commuters.

Thermal scanners will be used to screen commuters, sources said. The DMRC had recently tweeted a photo, showing caution stickers being put up on seats at regular intervals, for maintaining social distancing.

The DMRC authorities, however, remain tight-lipped on whether Aarogya Setu app would be made mandatory for travelling in the metro. "The decision to resume metro rail services in Delhi-NCR will be taken by the government, after which a detailed protocol for passengers will be shared with the media and the public," the DMRC had earlier said.

At present, the DMRC is taking up the necessary cleaning mechanisms inside the trains and indoor areas of stations such as entrance lobbies, corridors, staircases, escalators, elevators, security area etc, it said. "Other necessary logistical arrangements such as provision for hand sanitisation, thermal screening at stations and installation of social distancing related signages are also being handled," the DMRC said.

"The exercise will be extremely exhaustive as it involves cleaning and maintenance of 264 stations over 2200 coaches and over 1100 escalators and 1000 lifts etc," it said.

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