‘Airport-like’ checks for commuters as Delhi Metro resumes today

Automated sanitiser dispenser, lift calling system using foot pedal - Delhi Metro's grand preparation

Delhi Metro
Drivers gesture as Delhi Metro Rail Corporation gears up to resume its services from September 7 | Photo: PTI

Commuters opting for travel by Delhi Metro from Monday (September 7), when it resumes services after a gap of 169 days, will have to undergo airport-like “contact-free” security checks in view of the COVID-19 situation. The CISF has made elaborate plans in this regard and security drill changes have been outlined in the CISF’s ‘business continuity plan’ for Delhi Metro which resumes its services from Monday in a “staggered” manner.

Delhi Metro services were suspended on March 22 in view of the pandemic. The operations on its ‘yellow line’ (Samyapur Badli to HUDA City Centre) will resume from Monday followed by other lines in a phased manner.

Security

As part of its plans, the CISF will deploy modified hand-held and doorframe metal detectors for scanning passengers, who will have to put their metallic objects such as belts and pens in their bags.

The hand-held metal detector has been attached to a lean wooden stick to maintain a safe physical distance between the scanner and the passenger. Contactless frisking shall be carried out using hand-held metal detectors at a minimum distance of 2.5 cms.

The doorframe metal detectors are placed just before a commuter climbs on a small stool for their frisking, a senior CISF official said. These have been recalibrated in such a manner that they will beep along that body part where it is suspected that the passenger is carrying a metallic object.

Related news: Delhi metro’s new rules: Masks, smart cards mandatory, no tokens allowed

Passengers will also be asked to put all the objects on their body including metallic ones like belts and pens in their bags and if someone does not have a bag they are supposed to keep them in their hands, said the official. Unlike at airports, no plastic trays will be provided to the passengers to keep their belongings for scanning.

The official said passengers will be requested by on-duty CISF personnel to open and show the contents of their bags in case they find it suspicious even after making it pass through the x-ray scanner.

As per the CISF plan, physical distancing norms will be “strictly” enforced inside station area and a two-metre distance shall be maintained between the frisking and the line-up points and one-metre between passengers waiting at the security point.

The plan has been prepared to ensure the health and security of metro staff and the passengers are not compromised, and the rapid rail transport system has a robust counterterror cover during the pandemic period.

Phased resumption

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said, on this Monday and Tuesday, only the Yellow line will remain operational for a period of four hours each in the morning (7 AM to 11 AM) and evening (4 PM to 8 PM). Trains will be available with a headway varying from 244 to 528 (at different stretches) with 57 trains performing around 462 trips. The same will be further extended in a graded manner from September 9-12 along with other lines, it said.

Related news: Travelling in a Metro or AC bus? It’s not safe as yet

Over a period of the next five days, the rest of the lines will also be made operational with all safety measures in place to check the spread of COVID-19 in the metro premises which requires everyone to follow a new normal of social distancing, face mask use and regular hand sanitisation, the officials said.

Safety precautions

Delhi Metro has taken a slew of measures to ensure the least physical contact for riders when it resumes services, like an automated thermal screening-cum-sanitiser dispenser and lift calling system driven by a foot pedal. A police official said wearing of masks inside the premises and inside trains is mandatory, and “challans will be used if they violate this”.

At the point of entry at 45 stations, automated thermal screening-cum-sanitiser dispensers have been installed, which can read a commuters body temperature once he or she puts the forehead in front of it, and sanitiser will drop from a dispenser below, once hands are kept below the nozzle, the officials said. This facility will be available at 17 metro stations.

At other stations, auto-dispenser for sanitiser will be there, but thermal screening will be done manually using a thermal gun, officials said. At 16 metro stations spanning 50 lifts, push-button facilities to call a lift has been disabled, and commuters can press a foot pedal to call it, and beyond that, the lift will operate automatically.

Related news: Metro stations in containment zones to stay shut: New rules

Also as per the COVID-19 safety norms, a maximum of three passengers will be allowed in a lift at a time at any station, a senior official said. Inside the coaches, commuters will have to sit on alternate seats and maintain prescribed distance even while standing. Stickers have been put up on alternate seats and on platforms to maintain social distancing.

The stoppage duration of trains will be longer, and from 10-15 seconds at each station it will be increased to 20-25 seconds, and at interchange facilities, it will be increased from 35-40 seconds to 55-60 seconds, when services resume. The DMRC has 10 lines spanning 242 stations and 264 stations including the Rapid Metro in Gurgaon.

As part of the relaxations provided in the Unlock 4 phase of the lockdown, the Centre had allowed the resumption of metro train services in a phased manner from September. The Centre had also issued some rules in this regard, as per which

As per the rules, metro stations in containment zones shall remain closed. All commuters and staff will have to wear face masks. Metro rail corporations may make arrangements for supply of masks on payment basis for those not wearing one. Besides, only asymptomatic commuters will be allowed to travel after thermal screening at entry into metro stations.

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