Delhi Metro Reopens After 169 Days: ‘My First Ride Post Lockdown’

Delhi metro travel experience has drastically changed post COVID-19 lockdown.

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Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

Precisely 169 days after shutting operations, Delhi metro services have resumed under strict regulations. Amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the lifeline of many Delhiites, the Metro, is slowly reopening in a graded manner – between 7 to 12 September.

In stage one, the 49-km-long Yellow line corridor, covering 37 stations from Samaypur Badli to Huda City Centre – connecting to the Rapid Metro in Gurugram – has reopened.

I boarded the Metro from Chawri Bazar and travelled till AIIMS. Only one gate was opened, which was used for both entry and exit.

No less than 10 officials were stationed at the entry gates, to ensure that commuters follow the guidelines.

One official pointed towards the automatic hand sanitiser dispenser, another checked my temperature. After two steps, a staff member asked me to hang my bag in the air and sprayed it with disinfectant.

Following which, one female staff guided me towards the body scanner and another checked me from a distance.

DMRC staff was employed at the platform to manage crowd.
DMRC staff was employed at the platform to manage crowd.
(Photo: The Quint/Zijah Sherwani)

Very few commuters were seen at the platform and inside the metro train, which made it easy to maintain physical distancing.

According to the new operational module, the seating capacity has been reduced to 20 percent, which means only 50 people are allowed inside one coach at a time. But, on day one, only six-seven people were seen in a coach, with most carriages running empty.

The frequency of the metro trains was the same as before but they will be operating in a staggered manner, from 7-11 am and 4-8 pm only.

No stations on the Yellow line were closed as none fall under containment zones.

One of the new rules in the metro is that passengers must keep a gap of one seat between them, which was easily maintained on day one.
One of the new rules in the metro is that passengers must keep a gap of one seat between them, which was easily maintained on day one.
(Photo: The Quint/Zijah Sherwani)

To ensure cashless travel, DMRC has made smart cards mandatory. For recharge and purchase of new cards, digital payment services are to be used at the station.

But, many passengers, including myself, faced network issues in getting my smart card recharged. It took about 15 minutes for the recharge to reflect successfully on the APP.

Social distancing signage at the metro stations.
Social distancing signage at the metro stations.
(Photo: The Quint/Zijah Sherwani)
Social distancing signage at the metro stations.
Social distancing signage at the metro stations.
(Photo: The Quint/Zijah Sherwani)
Social distancing signage inside the metro.
Social distancing signage inside the metro.
(Photo: The Quint/Zijah Sherwani)

In pre-lockdown time, it took about 20 minutes to reach AIIMS from Chawri Bazar. Now, it takes around 27 minutes. This is considering that trains now halt at every station for 10-15 seconds more than usual.

Apart from the usual sanitisation guidelines that we have been following, like hand sanitisation, masks, social distancing, DMRC has also asked commuters to try and stagger their travel timings to 'break the peak' and requested people to 'talk less' to prevent aerosol transmission.

Travelling experience in Delhi metro has completely changed. The real task for DMRC will begin in the coming days, after an increased number of people will start commuting.

Managing the crowd while ensuring all the guidelines are followed, especially social distancing, will be the real test.

Services on rest of the lines will become operational from 9 September onwards, starting with Blue line, followed by the Red and Green lines. Stations that come under containment zones will remain closed.

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