TNM travelled across all three corridors to gauge the response to Hyderabad Metro services that began operations after a 5.5-month break.

Hyderabaad MetroRepresentative Image: PTI
news Ground Report Wednesday, September 09, 2020 - 18:45

After a hiatus of around five and half months due to the coronavirus pandemic, all three corridors of the Hyderabad Metro Rail have opened up in three phases. More than 4 lakh people used to use the Hyderabad Metro on a daily basis. The footfall had touched a record 4.6 lakh people on the eve of New Year with revellers choosing to use the metro, as services were extended up to 2 am for the convenience of citizens. Pre COVID-19, around 800 trips were being operated on a daily basis on all three corridors together.   

Fast forward to September, post the lockdown after operations resumed, on the first day on Monday, 120 train trips were made from 7 am to 12 noon and later from 4 pm to 9 pm on corridor 1 (Red line from Miyapur to LB Nagar). Around 19,000 passengers travelled on Monday.

On Tuesday, corridor 3 (Blue line from Nagole to Raidurg) also began operations and the same timings were followed as day 1. A total of 240 trips were made and a total of 26,000 passengers used the metro on day 2. On corridor 1, the numbers fell from 19,000 passengers on day 1 to 17,000 passengers on day 2. 9000 passengers used the Blue line which began operations on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, all three corridors were operational and it was announced that the timings were also extended from 7 am to 9 pm, without any breaks.

Ground Report

To understand the ground situation, TNM travelled on the Hyderabad Metro on Wednesday. We boarded the metro at Parade Grounds in Secunderabad and travelled on the blue line to Ameerpet.  

Unlike usual, it was effortless to find a parking spot at the entrance of the Parade Grounds metro station. There was no one around to collect the parking fee of Rs 3 per hour for parking a two-wheeler. At the entrance, we noticed that the ATM and the ticket vending machines were not being operated and posters were found which read, “This machine is not in operation to avoid multiple touch by passengers”. An announcement was heard asking passengers to use the metro smart card for the convenience of passengers and to discourage people from using the currency to buy tickets. If you don’t have a smart card, you can walk up to the counter and buy a ticket.

Before we could proceed towards the entrance, a staff greeted us with a smile, following which she checked our body temperature with an infrared thermal gun and then asked us to use the hand sanitizer provided. From the smile on their faces and their expression, the staff seemed happy and relieved to have returned to their jobs-- after a long break due to the pandemic.

We then tapped our metro card and headed for the security check, following which we proceeded towards the concourse level from where we took an escalator to the platform. All the shops on the concourse level were closed and have not begun operations as yet. We then boarded a train on the blue line and headed towards Ameerpet.

We noticed the train was 3 coaches long and hardly around 60 people were there onboard the train at any given point of time. The seats and the floor had markings, to remind people about social distancing. As there were very few passengers onboard, there was adequate seating for everyone on the train.

We got off at the Ameerpet metro station, which is a hub, where the blue and green lines converge. We found that while 30% of the shops at the station were open, the majority of them still had their shutters down. When we enquired about the response to their businesses ever since operations began, the man sitting at the Tibbs Frankie store who was busy playing a game of cards on his phone looked up for a minute and said, “Before the lockdown began, we used to do business worth Rs 50,000 in a day, in the last three days there has hardly been any business.” He then quickly went back to playing his game.

When asked about the safety precautions being followed, a loco pilot said, “Every couple of hours the train and the stations are being sanitized by the staff. I am on an 8-hour shift. Though we don’t come in direct contact with passengers during the trips, as we use the stations, we keep sanitizing and never take off our masks to ensure we are safe.”

From Ameerpet, we then changed from the blue line and then boarded a train on the red line. After travelling for quite a distance and covering several stations, we again changed the line to the green line to return to where we had begun our journey. Compared to the blue line, there seemed to be more people on the Miyapur to LB Nagar Red line. The green line, the shorted of the three lines also had very few passengers at that point of time.

At the Irrum Manzil metro station, we paid a quick visit to the washroom to check whether any special arrangements were made post COVID-19. Though there were no sanitizers provided outside the washroom, a little walk away, near the security check there was a sanitizer stand available for the convenience of passengers.

The journey on all three corridors of the Hyderabad Metro was comfortable and hassle-free thanks to the low footfall being witnessed presently and the adequate safety precautions being adhered to by the staff. Overflowing people and having to squeeze one’s way into a metro bogie, to find some space between sweaty people holding onto the hanging hand straps inside metro trains seemed to have become a thing of the past.

While it is good news that the metro has resumed its operations, with schools closed and offices providing its employees a work from home option, according to experts, it is going to take a long time for the metro to get half the footfall from pre-COVID-19 times.

READ: 

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