After being closed since March 22 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Delhi Metro has received the nod from authorities to resume services from September 7 in a "calibrated manner", officials said on Saturday.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that he was "glad" the metro services will resume operations in a phased manner.
"As per the latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs under Unlock-4, the Delhi Metro will be resuming its services for the public from September 7 onwards in a calibrated manner," the DMRC said in a statement.
Further details on the metro functioning and its usage by the general public will be shared once the detailed SOP on the metro is issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in the next few days, the officials said.
The chief minister, soon after learning about the latest MHA guidelines, tweeted, "I am glad that metro has been permitted to start its operations from 7 Sep in a phased manner." Awaiting a nod to resume operations, the DMRC in these months, meanwhile, had been training its staff on compliance of COVID-19 safety norms and also on ways to make travel safer for commuters.
Limiting the number of people in lifts, longer halting time for trains at stations to allow commuters to board and alight with social distancing norms, are among the measures the Delhi Metro will take to ensure safer travel for its passengers when services resume next month.
Inside metro premises and train coaches, wearing of masks will be mandatory and social distancing norms will be followed as per government guidelines, and people not wearing masks will not be allowed to enter metro premises, officials said.
"Trains will halt for a longer duration than on regular days to allow commuters to board coaches and alight from it while maintaining a physical distance. Also, the number of persons permissible to board a lift will be reduced in view of social distancing, and the exact number is still being worked out," the source told PTI.
One train coach has a capacity to accommodate about 50 passengers on seats and a total of nearly 300 riders in the entire compartment, including standing commuters. With social distancing norms, this number will reduce drastically.
From new smart cards with the auto top-up facility to stickers on social distancing norms pasted on seats and platform floors, Delhi Metro is all set to handle commuters in adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines, whenever the services are ordered to be resumed, the officials had earlier said.
Kejriwal had recently said that 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 take a decision on it.
However, the number of fresh cases and active cases have risen in the last several days.
Delhi recorded 1,954 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the highest single-day spike in cases in the city in August, taking the tally in the city to over 1.71 lakh, while the death toll from the disease rose to 4,404, authorities said. In the preceding two days, cases were recorded in excess of 1,800.
The economy has slowly opened up in a phase-wise manner in the unlock period since June.
According to sources, Delhi Metro has suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1300 cr since the closure of services since late March due to the COVID-19 situation. On regular days, the average daily ridership of DMRC is over 26 lakh.
Seeking to promote greater e-transaction for commuters to avoid physical contact as such, Delhi Metro on August 19 had announced a new facility that will enable riders to get their smart cards auto-topped up with money at AFC gates.
Among other measures, red lines have been drawn at regular intervals next to AFC gates and security checking gates, just before commuters enter near the platform areas.
On platform floors, large stickers bearing 'Ensure Social Distancing' message have been pasted at regular intervals, with a white circle bordered by an outer red circle, to alert commuters.
The DMRC authorities, however, remain tight-lipped on whether keeping Aarogya Setu app will be mandatory for travelling in the metro when the services are resumed next month.
Besides, contactless frisking of passengers, who will go through multiple door-sized metal detectors, checking them for fever or flu-like symptoms and restricted entry into stations are among a slew of measures proposed by the CISF for Delhi Metro.
A senior CISF official said while the force has not stressed that the app should be mandatory, passengers can be encouraged to download it for a hassle-free journey.
The total number of entry points at Delhi Metro stations will be heavily curtailed to ensure compliance with COVID-19 safety norms, the officials earlier said.
"The DMRC has 10 lines spanning 242 stations with 671 entrance points. Whenever the services resume, only 257 gates and frisking sides are planned to be kept open to comply with COVID-19 safety norms," a source had said.