Even as the Kolkata metro authorities are considering plans to resume commercial services from the middle of this month, the West Bengal government today requested them to run services on 13 September for candidates appearing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), 2020.

The request was made during a meeting held between officials of the state government and Metro Railway, Kolkata. Metro officials are said to have raised a set of proposals, including limited number of passengers inside rakes, altered hours of service, deployment of additional Railway Protection Force and city police personnel, in today’s meeting.

While it has been suggested that the RPF would manage the crowd inside the rakes, personnel from Kolkata Police and Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate could be deployed to manage the commuters at the station gates.

The Metro authorities are also said to have proposed to keep only two gates of the station open while shutting the remaining to control the entry and exit of commuters. However, a decision on the mechanism to handle the expected crowds is yet to be taken.

“We are discussing the modalities of crowd control with the state government,” informed the general manager of Metro Railway, Kolkata, Manoj Joshi.

“In today’s initial meeting, some proposals were discussed. The discussion will be taken further tomorrow. The modalities will be finalised in two to three days and a date of resuming services will be decided upon,” he added.

Amidst the pandemic, when social distancing is the top priority, the Metro authorities are considering restricting the number of commuters to 450 in a rake. “In normal course, over six lakh passengers travel in Kolkata Metro daily. Over 2,000 passengers are carried normally in a rake during peak hours.

In Covid times, the number would have to be limited to almost one fifth or one sixth of what is usually carried,” said Joshi. “First of all we need to work on the mechanism and then we need to decide how many people will be needed to control the crowd. The state government has also given some suggestions,” he said.

While the final date of resumption yet to be decided, the state government is said to have requested the metro officials to run services on 13 September for aspirants of NEET. “We may consider the request but only after taking a decision,” he added.

The Metro authorities will meet with state government officials, Kolkata Police and Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate tomorrow at Nabanna at 12 p.m.