Its tracks empty, stations shuttered, parking tons abandoned — because the Delhi Metro shut down on March 23 amid the pandemic, a small workforce of engineers quietly slogged behind the scenes. Their mandate – operationalising a back-up central command centre for prepare operations which may guarantee seamless providers with restricted human sources even when the present centres needed to shut down within the occasion of any Covid-induced emergency.
By June finish, the back-up centre was prepared. On September 7, the primary lot of trains had been again on tracks and by September 12, full scale providers resumed, albeit beneath social distancing and face masks stipulations.
The work to set in movement the brand new command centre, also called the Operation Control Centre (OCC), was not an exception although. “A new back-up centre for Magenta and Pink Lines were due since trains started running on these corridors. However, due to Covid, its significance went up and it had to be commissioned urgently,” mentioned a DMRC official.
As the trains remained halted for 171 days, groups of employees fanned out throughout the DMRC community to not simply make the system Covid-ready, but in addition perform different long-pending repairs and upgrades like fencing the elevated traces to stop theft of copper wire, disposing 60 metric tons of scrap, cleansing cooling coils of two,076 previous prepare coaches for higher air-conditioning amongst others.
On September 7, the primary day of service resumption, a little bit over 1.5 lakh took the Metro, which earned Rs 10.6 lakh from token gross sales and good card swipes. By December 29, passenger journeys rose to 18.74 lakh from which DMRC earned Rs 3.47 crore.
Yet, challenges stay. For a system that used to earn round Rs 10 crore each day solely from ticket gross sales, the pandemic has dealt a crippling blow to its funds – weighed down significantly by debt taken through the years from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for its intensive building works throughout the area.
On December 21, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Director (Operations) A Ok Garg wrote in a notice to senior officers of the company that “in the last eight months, DMRC has earned only Rs 247.65 crore whereas expenditure was of Rs 2,208.24 crore (approx) including JICA loan and interest repayment due during this period”.
He mentioned to satisfy the shortfall between earnings and expenditure, the company has sanctioned Rs 1,910 crore to be transferred from the undertaking division to the operations and upkeep (O&M) division, which takes care of the each day operations of the community that spans 390-km throughout Delhi-NCR.
Under the present preparations, alternate seats are left empty in trains and standing passengers are suggested to keep up a spot of 1 metre between them. While an eight-coach prepare can carry as much as 2,400 commuters, trains are presently carrying half that quantity on a mean.
Even after reopening, attributable to a number of restrictions and worry within the public, ridership may be very low and consequently the property enterprise and parking revenues are additionally very low, Garg wrote. To improve public confidence, the general public transporter, thought-about the nationwide capital’s lifeline, has been permitting individuals to enter its system after thermal scanning and spraying hand sanitisers.
To be certain, Metro remained beneath an entire lockdown solely between March 23 and April 19. From April 20, it recalled 33% employees to work, which rose to 100% from May 20. But with many staff contracting the virus, human useful resource administration emerged as a significant problem.
“At that point, offices had to be shut for 48 hours after emergence of Covid cases for sanitisation. Many employees had to put in 12 hours of work daily as only two trains operated every day to ferry them, at 8 am and 8 pm. Many stuck outside Delhi had to work from home while those in Delhi were called, alternatively, every three to four days. Those contracting Covid had to quarantine along with their immediate work contacts in the office. But amid all this, the system had to be prepared for resumption of services,” a DMRC official mentioned.
Meanwhile, the lockdown was additionally utilised for testing and commissioning driverless providers on the Magenta Line, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 28. The technological leap got here after months of trials, together with through the lockdown.