NEW DELHI: After 173 days, the capital’s lifeline, Delhi Metro, donned its old avatar even as it adapts to the “new normal”. The graded resumption of service entered its final stage on Saturday with train operations reverting to pre-lockdown timings of 6am to 11pm. All corridors are now functional with the addition of the high-speed Airport Express Line.
After staggered operational timings and gradual reopening of its primary corridors over the past five days, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will push 288 trains into service from Saturday, which will make more than 3,700 trips through the day. The longest and busiest corridor, Blue Line (Dwarka-Vaishali/Noida Electronic City), will see 66 trains being deployed for nearly 640 trips, followed by 57 trains on Yellow Line (Samaypur Badli-HUDA City Centre) making more than 600 trips.
With the opening of more corridors, ridership reached nearly 1.3 lakh on Friday. The increase in ridership was aided by the opening of more interchange stations, which would reach 28 on Saturday providing multiple travelling options to commuters.
Though Delhi Metro will make many more trips through the day from Saturday without any “off peak” hours, the weekends usually don’t see much rush. Monday is going to be the real challenge for DMRC as its ability to handle increasing footfalls through longer service hours will be put to test.
Anticipating a huge rush in the morning and evening peak hours, DMRC’s managing director Mangu Singh took to social media on Friday and urged commuters to “break the peak” by trying to stagger the timings at which they reach office or leave for home.
Before the pandemic, 11am to 4pm were considered off peak hours and frequency of trains was reduced. However, owing to the new norms of social distancing, which has significantly reduced the number of passengers allowed in a train, DMRC has decided to run the peak hour frequency of trains from 8am to 8pm.
Anuj Dayal, executive director (corporate communications), DMRC. said, “From 6am to 8am and from 8pm to closing of services, trains will be available at a frequency of 3 to 15 minutes. However, from 8am to 8pm, the frequency would be between 2 minutes 45 seconds and 6 minutes.”
In the case of Blue Line, trains coming from Dwarka leave alternately for Vaishali and Noida Electronic City. The waiting period for passengers destined to any of these two places would be double of other sections. A high-speed train would be available on Airport Express Line every 10 minutes from 8am to 8pm as earlier.
“Commuters should keep 15-30 minutes extra time at hand because of thermal screening, hand sanitisation at the entry point of stations and trains halting for a few extra seconds to ensure people board and deboard smoothly in adherence to social distancing norms,” said Dayal. As most stations have only one entry gate open for public, DMRC has advised passengers to check earmarked gates by visiting http://delhimetrorail.com/corona/entrygatedetails.aspx.
“For your and everyone else’s safety and to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, wearing of face mask and adherence to social distancing norms throughout the travel period has to be ensured by all commuters. Violation could attract penalties and removal from the premises. Anyone with a cloth face cover won’t be allowed entry,” Dayal said.
On Friday, DMRC penalised 92 commuters for not wearing a mask or failing to maintain social distancing.
On Sunday, train services will begin at 6am on all corridors instead of 8am. “This arrangement is being made to facilitate the candidates appearing for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test examination,” Dayal said.