COVID threat looms as Metro trains see rush

Back on track: Commuters have urged the CMRL to run more trains to enforce COVID-19 protocol in Metro trains.   | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

After several months, the number of commuters travelling by Metro trains touched 1.02 lakh on Wednesday. A few commuters said physical distancing norms were not followed on some trips with trains running jam-packed.

For the past few weeks, there has been a steady rise in the number of people travelling by Metro trains. From about 85,000 passengers in the last week of August, the number rose to one lakh on Wednesday. Before this, in February, when the phase I extension project from Washermanpet to Wimco Nagar was opened, the patronage crossed one lakh, as against the pre-COVID level of 1.25 lakh a day.

Officials of Chennai Metro Rail Ltd. (CMRL) expect an increase in the number of travellers in view of the long weekend because with Friday being a holiday for Vinayaka Chaturthi festival. The CMRL has increased the peak hours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and ran the services till 9 p.m.

“On Monday and Tuesday, we had nearly 96,000 and 94,000 passengers respectively. On the weekdays, the number goes up followed by a drop on the weekends. But the good sign is the patronage has been increasing constantly; we hope it will touch the pre-COVID levels soon,” an official said.

But the impending challenge is, the trains are packed and passengers stand and sit close to one another, resulting in violation of physical distancing norms.

Athreya Mukunthan took to Twitter to urge CMRL: “Request you to add more coaches in each train or increase the frequency of trains, especially in peak hours. Trains have become jam-packed, people unwilling to follow social distancing norms, are forcing passengers to adjust and sit (6 people in a row) and stand.”

While officials say they are operating trains every five minutes during peak hours, if the traffic increases further, then they should find a way to ensure physical distancing was not compromised and passengers were monitored if they continue to wear masks.

“Either the frequency should be increased or a few unscheduled trips are operated in the peak hours to regulate the crowd,” a source said.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 11:45:48 AM |

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