The resumption of metro services from 8 September, as per state government notification, is likely to come with reduced number of total runs and altered timings of underground transport in Kolkata.
While awaiting the standard operating procedures from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA), deployment of extra security, suspension of token issuance, use of smart cards, thermal screening of passengers, sanitiser kiosks, are some of the steps that the metro officials have planned for the new normal. As resumption of suburban trains is still on hold and a considerable number of staff commute from the carrier to work daily, the metro railway authorities are mulling over altering work timings and total number of commercial services per day, sources in Kolkata metro informed.
The officials might decide to run services between 8 am to 8pm instead of the earlier schedule.
“We might have to limit the service hours,” said Manoj Joshi, general manager of Metro Rail Kolkata, adding, “After a rake arrives at a station, more time needs to be alloted to commuters to exit and enter into the coaches, easily. Hence, the stoppage time at each station will go up. Thirdly, at terminus stations, more time will be given so that the touch surfaces are attended to. Because of these steps, the total number of services that were 288 before the lockdown, might have to be reduced till normalcy resumes.”
With sub-urban trains yet to restart, a lesser number of private and mini buses plying on the roads and biggest festival of the year, Durga Puja, a month away, the authorities are expecting a considerable crowd in the metros.
For handling crowd, the metro authorities are planning regulated and limited entry from the station gates.
“For regulating the entry, we will seek help from the state government. The entry and exit routes of the commuters will also be separated,” informed Mr Joshi.
According to sources, a meeting between the GMs of metro railways and the officials of MOHUA is to take place tomorrow. As the city metro functions under the Railway Ministry, the officials of Kolkata Metro will not be attending the meeting.
“We do not have the invitation to attend the meeting but we are looking forward to their SOP that could be incorporated,” said an official.