New Delhi: After being shut for over five months, metro services to resume from 7 September across the country except in Maharashtra. Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday announced the standard guidelines which included making wearing masks compulsory, graded opening of lines, reduced timings of operations, markings for social distancing and reduced frequency of trains.

Under the guidelines released by the union home ministry for unlock-4, the government had allowed metro services to resume services from 7 September and had asked the union ministry for housing and urban affairs to release a set of guidelines for the metro authorities to follow. While services will resume in a graded manner from 7 September, they will be scaled up to regular operation by 12 September.

“Emphasis has to be on review and caution. This opening up will need to be reviewed. If we find that resumption of operations isn’t resulting to social distancing, crowding then we will have no option but to review these decisions. While we welcome the decision to resumption of services but we will have to continue to take caution and care. Resumption of economic activity is important but has to be done in a calibrated manner. We need the cooperation of the public and the commuters to ensure that prescribed norms are followed,” Puri said.

Metros having more than one line will open different lines staring from 7 September onwards in a graded manner so that all corridors become operational by 12 September. Daily hours of operations will be staggered for the first few days until its fully operational by 12 September. The frequency of trains will be regulated to avoid passenger crowding at stations and in trains.

While all other metro services are scheduled to resume, the government of Maharashtra has decided not to resume services in September.

“I am quite confident that people will weigh their options and follow the guidelines in place. If someone defies the guidelines to wear a mask or social distancing, there are enough norms in place. The metro act provides for punitive punishment,” Puri added.

The government will be reviewing the progress at every stage and may stagger the opening based on the need. According to the guidelines, wearing of face masks will be made mandatory, only asymptomatic persons to be allowed, use of smart cards and cashless transactions to be encouraged. The train frequency will be longer to ensure sanitization after each trip.

For the Delhi metro, which is the largest and most successful metro in the country, for the first two days only the yellow line from Samaypur Badli to Huda city centre will function and other lines will start on consecutive days. The timings will be limited from 7am-11am and 4pm-8pm until 10 September, 7am-1pm and 4pm-10pm on 11 September and from 6am-11pm from 12 September.

“We will keep monitoring and accordingly allow people to enter a station. With schools and colleges shut and most private offices allowing work from home, we are not expecting full crowd to return to the metro initially. Only certain gates will be opened and there will be separate entry and exit gates,” Mangu Singh, DMRC chief said.

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